49 years BC, the commander of the 13th Legion stood at the River Rubicon, and paused. The dilemma was over whether or not to enter Italy. for a man who had built a career on surmounting crisis point over crisis point, this move would change the Roman world forever. Taking the army into Italy, and onto Rome, was an act of treason against the Roman Republic. At the time, generals were forced to disband their armies before entering Italy, since they were not allowed to hold imperium, or right to command, which belonged to Roman Governors. By crossing the Rubicon, Julius Caesar was taking imperium illegally, and would cause civil war. With the words alea iacta est, (the die is cast), Caesar crossed the Rubicon, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In the world of data, we have crossed the Rubicon which now includes analytics; both streaming, real time analytics as well as longer-term business analytics. There is a world of hype out there – big data? Fast Data? Bueller? Bueller? The industry is moving so fast, it’s hard to know what technology to throw your career behind. However, some things will stay the same, in spite of technology. Intellectual curiosity. Business Acumen. Critical thinking. Communication. Data skills. Data cleansing. The ability to question what you are told. Other skills: R. Statistics. Numeracy. SQL.
However, just because things are moving fast, it does not mean that we can ignore it. It’s easy to take the safe option and say that it’s better to wait until the industry slows down so we can see the embers of what’s left, and then take a decision. This is akin to sitting on the banks of the Acheron. According to Greek mythology and Homer’s poems, the Acheron is one of the five rivers of the Underworld. In Dante’s Inferno, here’s a quote from Canto 3:
On the other side of Acheron lies Limbo and the court of King Minos. Charon ferries the shades of the damned across the Acheron. A dreary fog hangs over the water, and lightning strikes light up the sky above it. On its shores lie those who lived with neither infamy or praise, denied entry into the Inferno or Paradise.
For those who do wait and nothing, they are seated on the banks of the Acheron, which is viewed as a marginal place.
In this world of data-driven analytics, organisations can’t afford to sit on the Acheron; the Rubicon has already been crossed, and organisations need to get their feet wet.
This is why the PASS strategy on Business Analytics is so crucial – we are doing something to be part of this world. PASS are not sitting on the Acheron but instead, PASS are crossing the Rubicon to be part of this new world. It’s important to separate the strategy of Business Analytics from the execution of one Business Analytics event; the strategy is a forward thinking vision, and you can read more set out it here.
More than ever, PASS has to keep up with the data world, and move fast and nimbly in order to support the community’s growing needs.Yes, sure, there is hype; but the people still need to learn to navigate the hype to make the principles and strucures of analytical thinking and the data world actionable and relevant to their organisations. Connect, learn, share… right?
PASS are getting their feet wet by serving this new community, as well as supporting the existing community. Is it a brave thing? Yes. My contact details are here, and I look forward to hearing from you. I don’t speak for PASS officially since I’m not on the Exec, but I hope you’ve found this background to be useful in understanding the strategy context.
2 thoughts on “The world of Analytics: are you crossing the Rubicon or sitting on the Acheron?”
It’s true that regardless of what changes in the industry, there are still some things that stay the same. In fact, things such as business knowledge, data skills, analytics, and data cleansing are even more important as technology surges forward. It’s important to implement these advancements in an intelligent way as long as they enhance the business.