Analyst: creative or canned?

I picked up the term “creative analyst” in late June on the phone with Lyzasoft CEO Scott Davis. But what does he mean?

He described one analyst he’s known of. This guy arrived at a new job with strong recommendations for his ability to tear apart a dataset. He could slice, dice, build related charts and pivot tables — but only with canned data. That is, data someone had given him. This analyst struggled with synthesis — blending separate datasets, for example, or making a formula to derive values, or simply experimenting and asking unforeseen questions.

The ability to improvise and create something new is a “prime differentiator” among analysts, says Davis.

Many of these creative, synthesizing analysts, he says, also tend to feel they have a personal brand. They have a style of charting they prefer, for example, and they produce a distinct set of information that is uniquely attractive to their subscribers within the company.

“You can sort of think of them as publishers,” he says. “They create these things that are in some ways more useful than reports from the BI tool. And they gauge their effectiveness by how many people follow them.”

Such lists have been around quite a while. Before PCs, people did the same kind of thing in hardcopy, producing a dozen or two binders with a distribution list clipped on the cover.

There’s a future, too. Davis expects to see Enterprise 2.0 — social networking within businesses — grow fastest among these analysts. They already have the social habits: commenting, trust, wikis, etc.

He says, “A spreadmart is nothing but a primitive social networking mechanism.”

One Response to Analyst: creative or canned?

  1. I think to be able build a culture of flexible analysis you need to empower your BI Team to find the best solutions themselves. I’ve always included my BI Team Members in business meetings because they need to understand how decision-makers think. Once they are empowered with the correct business point of view and given enough time/resources, they consistently develop outstanding content that is actionable and unambiguous.

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