Getting Started: What is Analytics?




“What is Analytics, and how is it different from what I already do with data?”


Analytics is about exploring your data, looking for hidden answers to important questions. Those answers help you solve meaningful problems or achieve significant objectives that result in competitive advantage.

It’s a process, characterized by asking questions and seeking previously unavailable answers in your data. Specialized tools and people with specific skills support that process, but it’s a process first and foremost.

It’s a way, of looking for opportunities to improve the performance of your business and get competitive advantage. Rather than solely relying on intuition or generalized personal experience without evidence, you look to your data for clues about what to do differently, and better, in the future.

It’s a commitment to the idea of “Test and Learn”, running your business on a continual cycle of questions, experiments, data gathering and a search for answers in that data. It’s about embracing the principle 0f “In God we trust; all others bring data”.

Are your current Reports, Dashboard and KPIs examples of “Analytics”? Maybe, but probably not. While they are very likely a productive use of your data, having them doesn’t necessarily make you a “data driven company”. They may be the outcome of an analytics project, and in that sense be a product of Analytics. But the fact that you turn data into Reports, Dashboard and KPIs doesn’t mean you are practicing Analytics. Data can be processed in many ways and result in many types of products, and Analytics is one of those processes.

Of course, there are tools and services sold by vendors that are an important part of your investment in Analytics. Those vendors will try to persuade you that by buying and using their products you are “doing” Analytics. Their tools and services are likely necessary, but insufficient, evidence of a company that analytically managed.

At the end of the day, getting started with Analytics is the first step on a journey where you will be making more (and better) data driven decisions and fewer decisions based on gut feel alone. With practice comes perfection. Start small and learn by doing. Establish a vision, but scope a proof of concept as your first step. Get value at each milestone along the way. Don’t forget to proactively lead and manage your people through this change. Soon enough, you will be “doing Analytics” by any objective measure.

questionstopQuestions? Happy to answer them. Please contact Gene Connolly at to setup a call.


To learn more about Analytics, here are some other online resources available: