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Increasing analytics adoption in CX and the NFL

At this point, most business people will have heard the concept that "Good is the enemy of great" uttered at least once. This, of course, comes from Jim Collins' incredible book Good to Great. The idea is that very few companies do the hard work necessary to become Great because they get satisfied with being Good. 

I frequently get asked the question: How do I get my organization to make analytics a core competency? Many companies give analytics lip service, but many companies are still not very mature in the commitment to and use of analytics. For instance, a 2014 report by the International Institute of Analytics found that only 32% of health care companies have advanced beyond the 3rd level of maturity. I think one thing holding companies back from greater adoption is that current, non-analytic ways are working pretty well. If a company continues to hit their sales growth targets with their current approach, they are unlikely to go through the pain and cost of creating a cutting edge, analytically-driven sales operations group that might yield higher growth.   

For years I have been watching the adoption of analytics across major sports leagues with a special focus on the NFL. The NFL has generally lagged behind many other sports in their use of advanced analytics, and I think one big reason is a lack on incentive. Even the worst team in the sport is worth $1.4B. If you look back at the beginning of analytics in baseball (the Moneyball story), it was driven by some level of desperation. The organization was not in a good place, so Billy Beane tried something crazy in an effort to make the organization viable and successful. Unfortunately, that is often what it takes for new ideas to get a chance. We don't act until we realize something is really broken.

I think we may be seeing this tipping point in the NFL. This off-season the Cleveland Browns, one of the worst performing franchises over the last decade, hired two analytically minded executives to run their football operations. The Browns have not been a good franchise for a while, even though they are worth $1.5B. They have tried to change that in many normal football ways – new coaches, new players, new schemes –  but I think they reached a point where trying something against the norms of the NFL was less scary then continuing to flounder. Now this experiment could fail and the NFL could remain an analytical laggard for years, but I think the very act of trying will be enough to encourage other franchises to follow suit. There are already thriving analytic groups in other franchises like the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, and New England Patriots, but this is the first time analysts have been put in charge of personnel decisions for an organization. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

So, how does this apply to CX analysts? If we want to increase the analytic maturity of our organizations, we need to proceed along a two-pronged path:

  1. Be idealistic and champion the stance that analytics can help the organization become great. I truly believe that no organization can become great or sustain greatness in the current market context without a deep commitment to analytics.
  2. Be pragmatic: Find areas where the customer experience is broken and show the organization how analytics can fix it. 

It's not easy to do both of these, especially if you are a lone wolf or a small team, but it is important. And the three suggestions in my previous blog on analytics in the NFL might also help. At the end of the day, we all need help to do great things. Find someone who shares your vision and ask for help. And if you don't know someone who will help, come to our CX Summit in May, and you will meet a whole bunch of people, including me!


About the Author

Troy Powell

Troy Powell

Troy Powell focuses on business analytics with primary responsibility for advanced analytics and data mining projects. He also serves as a key thought leader with responsibilities of developing new, innovative solutions and advancing knowledge on customer research, analytical techniques, and research methodology.

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