Analysis and the BS artists who want you to believe they are psychic…

definition*: a detailed examination of anything complex in order to understand its nature or to determine its essential features”

I chose analysis this week because it baffles me how much this term is abused by marketers, Business Intelligence (BI) companies, and more. Examples –

  • As with CX and Forrester, companies like to make up terms in order to create relevance and leverage the bandwagon effect to get people to buy into it all
  • This agile culture that has poisoned the business world has meant that the meaning of the terms we use, matters less and less, as time passes
  • Just as with the bandwagon effect, if structure exists…any structure, it is often leveraged as a way to avoid doing any (actual) work. In my experience, agile = complacency (when it is not applied in a genuine way by qualified professionals). “Sure. We’re agile now. We don’t really know what it means…but we’re agile”

I saw this ad on Facebook the other day –

These aren’t pillars of anything. They actually aren’t anything, period.

Descriptive Analytics is a ridiculous term. How do we describe our analytics?

“It has all sorts of fancy blue lines and green bars and a ton of percentages most people won’t understand upon reading them but they make me feel warm and fuzzy?”

It also speaks to the heart of one of my greatest pet-peeves. Analytics is not synonymous with reporting. If this were called descriptive reporting, I wouldn’t have an issue with it.

Predictive analytics isn’t a thing and I’m tired of hearing about it. You can’t analyze something that hasn’t happened yet! Go back to the definition of analysis – “a detailed examination.” When was the last time your orthopedist told you how X-Rays you haven’t done yet, look? Or maybe your a food critic should advise you on how the food they haven’t eaten yet, tastes. It’s ridiculous.

Prescriptive Analytics also isn’t a thing. ALL analytics are prescriptive (unless you ignore them). And if you want to state that this creates any form of roadmap as to what decisions should be made next…that’s called…wait for it…a strategy.

I want to reiterate that this blog is about definitions – the meaning of words. It isn’t that I dismiss what Berkeley (and those like them) are offering, implying that there is no practical application or potential benefit. It is their naming that creates unnecessary confusion and I guarantee, reduces interest.

And in the spirit of practicing what we preach, given the role marketers are also consumers, they should consider the impact more accurate naming and descriptions would have on garnering their own interests. For example, predictive modeling sounds notably more intriguing than predictive analytics. It is more accurate as to what will be taught or leveraged and is also, more descriptive. I know this, quantitatively, due to simple logic. If something doesn’t make sense, it won’t spark emotional interest, only confusion. Whereas I am confident that improved naming will undoubtedly have a stronger impact on someone, I’d love to see Berkeley facilitate a survey of 50 people – and determine which phrase leaves the participants with a more comprehensive understanding of what they will actually learn – based solely on these options – predictive analytics and predictive modeling, without describing the course. Hey Berkeley! Hook me up!

Thanks for reading!

  2. I will challenge Merriam-Webster on this definition. Awareness just means you know something exists. It has nothing to do with any form of action or experience.

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