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First-ever IBM Analytics University empowers data transformation

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Social Media Strategist, IBM

If you’re holding an event for the very first time, what helps you gauge its success? At IBM Analytics University, the answer to the question is, “analytics, of course.” For an immediate idea of how things were going, social media analytics is the way to go. So, we used Watson Analytics for Social Media to see what themes and topics resonated while our keynote speakers took the stage. We also evaluated which sessions caught people’s interest. Here’s a summary of what we learned from the experts and from Watson Analytics for Social Media. 

The importance of knowing your blind spots

The events opened with an engaging presentation from Marc Altshuller, IBM General Manager of Business Analytics, who challenged us to think of what data-driven means. Even when being “decision-driven,” things can still not go as we planned. And, when we try to figure out why, we discover other factors were in play. So, his question was, “shouldn’t we find those other factors before we make the decision or recommendation?” 

As he went through his presentation, he showed us how no one data analytics tool can help us find those other factors. He cautioned us to also eliminate blind spots, which he described as trusting people who aren’t analysts just because they’re good with tools. In sum, his point was that you can’t get real and lasting insights quickly. Data visualizations get you started, but they can often be misleading when taken out of context. Analytics needs to be holistic.

Danger, danger… dashboards

Marc was joined on stage by Joel Shapiro, clinical associate professor and executive director of the program on data analytics at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Building on Marc’s theme, Joel took on dashboards. Because they’re snapshots of important measures, he announced, dashboards cannot provide the nuance and context for effective data-driven decision-making. He said we should think of dashboards as a source for questions, not answers. His overarching message was that our concern over making a quick decision leads us to rely on dashboards. But what we should do is to investigate and ask questions, then make the right decision, even if it takes longer. In short, measurement doesn’t always lead to insight. 

Client stories and storytelling data visualization

Following the keynotes, many attendees were interested in hearing the steps other clients took as they began their analytics journeys — including tips on implementation, governance, and what organizational culture shifts might be necessary. A theme that appeared to bubble up when analyzing the social feed was the topic of storytelling using data visualization. While we don’t want to be “dumb and dangerous” with our dashboards, we can use them as one piece of the puzzle in showcasing data insights. 

The top Analytics University themes resonating in social media

With Watson Analytics for Social Media, we learned a few things from the random sampling of social data. We quickly saw that smart data discovery and business intelligence were some of the most talked about subjects, followed by planning and predictive analytics. We also saw that Marc and the keynotes claimed a healthy share of the top topics.

 Next, as we dug into the social streams, some key themes surfaced. These appeared as we looked into the specific mentions at the event.

So, social media analytics told us that attendees gained useful insights from this event. We hope that it also inspired them to use analytics holistically to empower their organizations now and into the future. 

Not able to attend?

If you were not able to attend, catch our IBM Analytics University keynote from New Orleans. And, visit us online to learn more about how business can help you fuel creativity, find new opportunities, and turn insight into action.