The nerdy topic of business analytics is made easy to understand and useful in the book “Behind Every Good Decision: How Anyone Can Use Business Analytics to Turn Data into Profitable Insight” by business consultants Piyanka Jain and Puneet Sharma. Their main objective is to give the reader the best methods to use data in a practical and profitable way. Their promise is to use business analytics as a simple problem solving tool. And, if done right, it can “make for happier customers, more productive products, agile business practices [and] more productive employees…”
The authors make their living in the highly competitive Silicon Valley by advising companies on how best to use data both strategically and tactically for marketing and financial growth.
Jain and Sharma remind us that analytics is the science of applying structured methods to solve problems by using data and analysis. But, rather than a simple number crunching exercise, it requires a combination of intuition plus data. That, in turn, can
lead to powerful insights as to the specific problem and an 80 percent chance of making good and/or better decisions.
The new normal for successful decision-making is to carefully craft the correct response to a problem. We are warned that the use old and past problem-solving techniques no longer serve the complex problems of today.
We are invited to compare the structured use of analytics to systematic detective work that has an impressive success rate. We are cautioned that poor problem-solving methods (that many still use today) are similar to exploring the oceans without the use of navigation equipment and up-to-date maps. Decision-making makes or breaks companies as well as individuals. Bad decisions are like the shipwrecks caused by uninformed and undisciplined explorers.
Seven of the most common and effective methods to use are outlined in one chapter giving the reader good examples on ways to define and categorize problems, opportunities and goals. Choosing a method will take reflective thought since it will require knowing what the intended outcome should be. This helps to categorize information into useful chunks.
Another chapter is devoted to five simple steps to follow: Business Question, Analysis Plan, Data Collection, Insights and Recommendation. Like the other chapters, this chapter is reader-friendly with graphics that are upbeat, relevant and easy to understand.
A refresher chapter on business statistics is in the back of the book for those who need some updates on concepts and vocabulary.
Some reality checks for the reader can be found in the chapter on common pitfalls to avoid. It’s powerful reading with many tips for those who may be inclined to rush to solve a problem that may be more complicated than it appears. The message here is avoid costly mistakes by thinking ahead.
A pleasant surprise is the ten mini case studies toward the end of the book. It’s a banquet of examples ranging from challenges in sports, urban crime control, disease control and innovative strategies by Google. It’s a succinct treasure of practical advice.
“Behind Every Good Decision” is a keeper. It should be on the desk and in the hands of planners and decision-makers in organizations where good decisions matter. That’s everybody. I also recommend it for personal planning and decision-making.