Answer & Explanation:ORIGINAL QUESTION
Unit 1 Discussion
This Discussion is based on the article “Big Data, Analytics
and the Path from Insight to Value” by LaValle, Lesser, Shockley, et al. from MIT-Sloan
Management Review. Make sure to read this article before starting the
Discussion. See the Syllabus for details on how to obtain the article.
This week, you will look at a survey on how leading
organizations are using statistics and you will compare the findings to your
experience with respect to your own organization.
companies that are evolving tend to use intuition rather than analytics in
their decisions. Looking at the 11 categories listed in the first chart
(p. 23) titled “Analytics Trumps Intuition,” select three and comment on
which side your organization is on (clearly label as “Analytics” or
“Intuition”). For each of these categories, give an example in which the
decision makers use intuition or analytics.Looking
at the 11 categories listed in the chart on page 25 titled “Impediments to
Becoming More Data Driven,” select three obstacles that you think are
preventing a focus on analytics in your company. For each, explain the
issue. For example, if you selected “concerns with data,” you would
describe what those concerns are. How does this obstacle manifest itself
and impact you in your work? Finally, make recommendations to overcome the
obstacle you identified.
In your replies to fellow classmates, look for similarities
to your organization. If you have experienced similar issues, comment on how
your organization handled the situation.
Please use the template below in your answers, so everyone
can easily follow your answers to all the questions (copy and paste to your
Question 1: Analytics or intuition
Category 1:
Financial management and budgeting
I am in the
financial reporting group for an oil refining company. We are constantly being
approached by the finance groups and executives to make sure that the
information they have in their power points are correct. They can then go ahead
with their analytic approach to financial management. After we verify the
information they use that as a basis to make decisions. One of the recent
decisions was whether or not to purchase another company. After viewing our own
data about whether we could make a good deal they then reviewed the other
companies financials compared to the industry. My company decided to purchase
As for budgeting, we
take the analytical approach as well. We take the previous year’s actuals and
increase them by 3%. They are then sent to segment controllers who analyze
trends and are able to make adjustments based on what should be higher or lower
in the next year.
Category 2:
Operations and production
My company uses the
analytical approach to operations and production. They are always looking at
certain metrics and bringing them up in town hall meetings to tell us if we are
doing well or not.
Also, many parts of
the refinery cannot be shut off so they have to carefully use analytics to tell
how much to produce when and where to keep the plant functioning properly.
Category 3: General
General management
seems to be more of an intuitional approach. I am sure there are some analytics
used here but I cannot think of any examples. My boss knows what each of his
group members are good at and is able to delegate tasks to each of us easily
that way. There are other groups in the office that would be able to track an
employee’s productiveness through how many documents they are able to complete
but I am not sure if they do that. I think the company is more intuitional in
general management.
Question 2: Obstacles to analytics
Obstacle 1: Lack of
understanding of how to use analytics to improve the business
A recent project has
come up where I am going to analyze our contracts to be able to recognize all
the revenue streams that we have. A company whose software we already pay for
has a feature that would make us not only be able to do this but also be able
to make useful reports about the contracts. People do not understand how this
other program will help and want me to just do it in excel to keep it simple.
If we use this software we could get a lot of useful information for decision
making out of it. I am trying to explain to them how much more organized and
easier to understand this information will be in the software instead of in
Obstacle 2: Ability
to get data
This ties back into
the contract analysis. I need to at least do the revenue recognition for these
contracts to be able to complete the project I am working on. I am constantly
running into problems obtaining the contracts though. I can access some but
most of them I have to go through my main contact who sometimes sends me on a
goose chase to talk to other people and it makes it frustrating. I have tried
to get access to find them myself but I have been declined permission. The
company should either allow me into these restricted folders while I need them
or store the information people want in a less secure place on the network.
Obstacle 3: Lack of
management bandwidth due to competing priorities
My coworkers and I
stay busy and do not have time to use analytics on all of our decision making.
We could use someone who has experience in this to be our analytics specialist.
Even if we had a new hire to take on some of our responsibilities we would have
more time to focus on using data driven decisions.
Question 1:
I work for a
benefits administration company. Companies hire us for our ability to obtain
low healthcare costs for their employees because we can obtain group
discounts.  However, my division of the company is fairly new and has only
been around for about 4 years.  Because of this we have some growing
Retention and hiring– intuition
This is a pain area for us because we
are growing so fast and need the bodies, so we are just hiring almost
anyone that has any type of account management background.  However,
with our company being in healthcare benefits, having a benefits
background is a must and a lot of these employees do not have any type of
benefits background.  So many of them are gone within the year
because they get frustrated and feel unsupported.  We rely mainly on
our own employees to recruit which is also difficult.  They do this
by sending out emails every so often about open positions and ask us to
spread the word and offer a bonus for any referrals that are hired. 
It would be increasingly helpful if we could start screening more
potential candidates prior to even interviewing them.  Maybe having
some type of question on the application that has them rank their benefits
knowledge and how much experience they feel like they have in account
management experience.  Especially because people tend to only refer
others to obtain the bonus.  They don’t really care much for the
potential employees previous experience.
Customer Experience Management – intuition
This one is probably one of the more
frustrating ones that my company struggles with. We are a new company, so
customer feedback is very important.  We are actually losing the same
amount of clients as we are gaining on 01/01/2017, so there is clearly
some area for improvement.  However, we don’t provide any type of
survey, to my knowledge, to our clients at the end of the year.  This
would be increasingly helpful to provide to both renewing and terminating
clients.  That way we can continue what we do well and improve on
what we don’t.  This could be something like a scale survey where the
clients rank us on certain areas.  I feel like getting that feed back
and finding the most common area where we overall rank the lowest, we can
work on together as one organization.  I think we would increase the
retention rate in our clients and improve our overall client satisfaction.

Work force planning and allocation – analytics
This is something that we do well with
when it comes to our call center.  It is known in the benefits
administration industry that 4th quarter is always busy. 
That is because most employers hold what is called an Open/Annual
Enrollment during this time for their employees to enroll into benefits
for the following year.  So calls into our call center spike
dramatically during the 4th quarter.  Our work force
management teams tracks all calls during this time every year and can even
forecast how many calls each client will generate based on prior year
data.  They also take into account how many clients are going through
their enrollment at one time, how many employees that client has that
could potentially be calling and many other factors.  They put this
together and forecast how many call center reps are needed.  We then
recruit seasonal employees based on this forecast to help get us through
this busy season.  Because our work force management team does such a
great job and does use analytics to hire this extra help, it truly has
helped our call center stay on top of answer rate and decrease the wait
time for our client’s employees.  
Question 2:
Lack of skills internally in the line of business:
One of the biggest struggles we have at
my work is how much skill in benefits each person has prior to being
hired.  This lack of knowledge and skill in benefits makes it very
hard for our employees to be successful in their jobs.  I have been
with this company for 2 years, again, this division has only been around
for 4 years, and the training has come very far compared to where it was
when I was hired.  However, if we can build in analytics into our
hiring process and hire more individuals that have a benefit background,
our new hires would not need to spend almost a month in training and can
start doing their job faster.  This would save our company time and
money. However, I believe that because we are growing and are a new
company, they are looking to hire anyone that seems qualified and trainable,
so they don’t want to worry about changing their hiring process now. This
impacts my daily work because if I have a question on some thing benefits
related, it is hard to find someone that may know the answer.  It
takes more time away from my work to try and find an answer. But one way
to help with this could be by adding some type of ranking survey to
Lack of management
The biggest issue here is we have
actually had a lot of leadership turnover.  Because of this, every
new leader is focused on other priorities and doesn’t want to worry about
putting any effort into implementing any more analytics.  I think
they would focus on this more once our new leaders feel established and
feel like they have everything else under control. One way to help with
this to have our work force management do additional analysis outside of
just 4th quarter to show them how much bringing analytics could
help with our overall retention in clients and hiring.  I think once
our leadership team sees the results; they would understand how important
it is to do additional research using our own data.  It could even
lead to additional markets and clients that we haven’t even looked at yet.

Perceived costs
outweigh projected benefits:
I think this is a large part of why we
haven’t done a lot of data analysis this year.  Because we are losing
just as many clients as we are bringing on for 2017, we aren’t putting
extra money into many other things.  Travel has halted for anyone
wanting to see their own clients and we are even on a hiring freeze,
except for the call center.  One way to offset the cost is by
utilizing the current workforce management team we have.  I think
once our workforce management team provides results outside of the call
center to our leadership team surrounding other departments, leadership
will realize that investing additional money into data research and
statistical analysis is actually very beneficial. It could be used more in
our decision making on how we spend our money, and may even save our
company money.

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