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One of the most prominent themes at the recent Predictive Analytics World conference was that of the relationship between analysts and business decision makers, and ways of “bridging the gap” between the two. It was argued, among other things, that business decision makers are becoming more analytical, but also that analysts must learn to choose their metrics and present their insights in such a way that the business context and value become more apparent to decision makers. This is all very well and if taken to the extreme might enable organizations to make perfect decisions.

In reality, it seems to me that analysts will always have an opportunity to influence decision makers by deliberately presenting information or insights in the way that best suits their (or someone else’s) agenda, no matter how analytical the decision makers. I’m curious to know what people think about the following questions in a real world context:

  •  Do analysts and decision makers typically have a shared goal or do analysts often have their own agenda?
  •  Do analysts often try to influence decision makers by presenting their results in a persuasive manner?
  •  What persuasive techniques are most commonly used by analysts to influence decision makers?

To illustrate the questions, consider a (much simplified) business problem – an investment decision to be made based on the predicted future sales trend.

  


  • What conclusions about future sales would a decision maker draw when confronted with the visualizations (all based on the same historical sales data) shown above?
  • How many decision makers would have the analytical skills and tools needed to dig deeper into the data and come up with their own view?
  • What additional information / business knowledge / analytics would be needed to make the “right” decision, and who typically makes that decision?

 

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