Man v. Machine: Where Do I Fit In in an Analytics Driven World?

Topics: Leadership, Analytics, Management

With the continued rise of smart technology and analytics, you might ask yourself the above question. It’s very easy to feel as if analytics are taking the place of humans in the workplace. However, unlike I, Robot, the technology is only here to allow us to focus on the true nature of our jobs. That is to say that, in the trade promotion area, it allows analysts to spend less time compiling data, and more time using their skillset to analyze data.

In an article for Ernst and Young, Rob Holston, “Are people the most important variable in your data analytics equation?”, states “Today’s advanced analytics…create better, faster and always-on ways of finding the profitable, sustainable growth that has been so elusive in recent years.” Companies who are succeeding in the face of the analytics revolution are doing so because not only have they adopted an analytics strategy, but they’ve also found the key balance between machine and man, allowing them to confidently make and implement decisions quickly.

Holston says, “They have invested in the operational infrastructure that enables them to produce analytics—new technology and tools, data quality and advanced analytics skillsets. But they’ve also paid full attention to the capabilities that enable people in their organization to actually use those analytics.”

Here, let’s talk about obstacles that even the most analytically sophisticated companies experience.

  • Low user adoption due to unintuitive and complicated systems leading to redundant entry – More work
  • Reluctance to change
  • Fear of elimination of jobs
  • Difficulty finding qualified employees

 "Companies who are succeeding in the face of the analytics revolution are doing so
because not only have they adopted an analytics strategy, but they’ve also found
the key balance between machine and man."

Companies who struggle with implementing an analytics strategy, do so because they don’t balance new analytics capabilities with old methods. There is a misconception that the adoption of analytics means an abandonment of current practices. The fact of the matter is, the tools and infrastructure cannot exist by itself without a human component there to make decisions at some point based off of what the analytics program spits out. It takes a person to turn analytics insights into action.

However, a recognition of increased ability does not equal empowerment of these employees to create new action. “The sooner you enable your people to become better analytics consumers, the sooner your investments will pay off. When analytics are embedded in business processes at the point where decisions are made, they generate value.”

"Companies who struggle with implementing an analytics strategy, do so because
they don’t balance new analytics capabilities with old methods."

When implementing an analytics initiative, how can you move from alienating your team to empowering them?

  • Gain C-Level sign off on organizational change
  • Develop internal leaders at various operating levels in the organization
  • Comprehensive user-friendly training
  • Partner with vendors who have a proven track record of long-term customer focus

Ultimately, there is no need to fuel a fear of technology taking the place of humans in trade marketing. Humans are just as important as ever to the needs of the company, however, they simply now have tools that allow them to dedicate more time to crucial aspects of data analysis, resulting in a quantified return to the organization.

What to read next: How Analytics Integration Brings Transparency


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