What the buzz is all about?



Henry Ford famously said about the iconic Model T in 1909, "You can have any colour as long as it's black."  He was the pioneer of assembly line manufacturing for the mass production of affordable automobiles. His business philosophy was built on the assumption that Customers are primarily interested in products, which are low priced and easily available. 


Do we think Henry Ford would have said the same, one century later in 2009? There are dozens of car manufacturers capable of doing the same, across the world.


Which one of the following strategies would work in today’s Business World.  

  • Successful products are those which are mass produced, at low prices and are easily available.
  • Successful products are those which offer best quality, performance and are laden with unique features.
  • Customers are very sceptic and are unwilling to buy any product, unless they are aggressively promoted and sold to customers.
  • No product is going to be sold, unless it is aligned with the Customers’ need, Competition and impending changes in the environment

Perhaps the answer is “all of them”, but has to be done "profitably", as Organization would not last long to do these. And that is true, as fierce competition and highly aware customers necessitates all of the above.


Acumen, Instinct and Intuition alone is not enough today. What separates the “winners” from others in the Business world today, is the hard earned “insights” from massive pile of information, which one accumulates from different customers, functions, geographies and channels. 


Without Data (Analytics), you are just another person with an opinion” – W. Edward Deming


Thomas H. Davenport coined the phrase “Competing on Analytics” and he says –


Organizations are competing on analytics not just because they can–business today is awash in data and data crunchers - but also because they should. At a time when firms in many industries offer similar products and use comparable technologies, business processes are among the last remaining points of differentiation. And analytics competitors wring every last drop of value from those processes.”


Finding valuable information from data is not restricted to Corporates, but has immense Societal values too. A medical practitioner gains more confidence through patterns emerging from past treatment data. Educational and Training programs are becoming more productive based on the insight on past performances of recipients. Weather forecasts are becoming more and more accurate by using appropriate data mining techniques.


Hence we see this Number Crunching (Data Analytics) everywhere around us –

  • Amazon giving us relevant recommendations on our next visit to their website
  • Tesco bundling “basket of items” and selling them with lucrative cross-discounts
  • Caterpillar and GE proactively suggesting maintenance of their assets, deployed in remote areas
  • Airlines and Hotels changing their fares continuously on various routes or locations
  • Retailers selectively sending personalized promotional campaigns to the customers in the same neighbourhood
  • Google's suggestions appearing as soon as we type few letters in the search bar
  • Certain emails automatically routed to our Spam or Social folders

Analytics has become a Strategic Weapon in modern Business World, and is used across functions, across hierarchies, across industries and is one of the most sought after skill set today and no wonder, Data Scientist” is the sexiest title of the 21st Century” (T.H. Davenport and D.J. Patil, 2012). 


In addition to that, lack of data or computing infrastructure is no longer a constraint. Data is being generated in abundance everywhere and computing power has grown exponentially in the past decade or so. Distributed Computing has made it possible to mine dataset in excess of Terabytes. So there is a need for analytics and there are enablers in place. What could be a concern is the lack of skilled Data Scientists, in comparison to the massive need for them.