winter 2011 • volume 52 • number 2
Big Data, Analytics and the Path From Insights to Value
steve lavalle (iBm), eric lesser (iBm), rebecca shockley (iBm), michael s. Hopkins (MIT Sloan
Management Review) and nina Kruschwitz (MIT Sloan Management Review) pp. 21-32
To understand the challenges and opportunities associated with the use of business analytics, MIT Sloan
Management Review, in collaboration with the IBM Institute for Business Value, conducted a survey of
more than 3,000 business executives, managers and analysts from organizations located around the
world. The survey was part of the 2010 New Intelligent Enterprise Global Executive Study and Research
Project, which attempts to understand better how all organizations are trying to capitalize on information and apply analytics today and in the future.
One of the most significant findings is that there is a clear connection between performance and the
competitive value of analytics. Survey respondents who agreed that the use of business information and
analytics differentiated them were twice as likely to be top performers. Three stages, or capability levels,
Based on insights from the survey, case studies and interviews with experts, the authors also describe
an emerging five-point methodology for successfully implementing analytics-driven management and
rapidly creating value — as leading businesses are already managing to do. These include ( 1) focus on
the biggest and highest data priorities, ( 2) within each of those priorities, start by asking questions, not
by looking at the available data, ( 3) embed insights into business processes to make them more under-
standable and actionable, ( 4) keep existing capabilities and tools while adding new ones and ( 5) develop
an overarching information agenda that enables decision making and strategy for the future.
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Matchmaking With Math: How Analytics
Beats Intuition to Win Customers
Cameron Hurst (assurant solutions), interviewed by michael s. Hopkins and leslie Brokaw pp. 35-41
Credit insurance and debt protection product seller Assurant Solutions ran a classic customer service
call center — operationally optimized, “skills-routed,” managerially enlightened. But when it explored
analytics-based approaches to rethinking how the center worked, a strange thing happened: The success
rate for customer interactions tripled.
According to Cameron Hurst, vice president of Targeted Solutions at Assurant, the result surprised them.
“We learned that operational efficiency and those traditional metrics of customer experience like
abandon rate, service levels and average speed to answer are not the things that keep a customer on the
books.” They found instead that technology could assist the company in retaining customers by leveraging the fact that some customer service reps are extremely successful at dealing with certain types of
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