IIA and the Research for This Book
I have been doing research on analytics for the last fifteen years or so. In 2010 Jack Phillips, an information industry entrepreneur, and I cofounded the International Institute for Analytics (IIA). This still-young organization was launched as a research and advisory service for vendors and users of analytics and analytical technologies. I had previously led sponsored research programs on analytics, and I knew they were a great way to generate relevant research content.
The earliest support for the Institute came from the leading analytics vendor SAS. We also worked with key partners of SAS, including Intel, Accenture, and Teradata. A bit later, other key vendors, including SAP and Dell, became sponsors of IIA. The sponsors of IIA provided not only financial support for the research, but also researchers and thought leaders in analytics who served as IIA faculty.
After recruiting other faculty with academic or independent consulting backgrounds, we began producing research outputs. You’ll see several examples of the research outputs in this book. The IIA produced three types of outputs: research briefs (typically three-to-five-page documents on particular analytics topics); leading-practice briefs (case studies on firms with leading or typical analytical issues); and write-ups of meetings, webcasts, and audioconferences. The emphasis was on short, digestible documents, although in some cases more than one brief or document has been combined to make one chapter in this book.
With some initial research in hand, we began recruiting corporate or organizational participants in IIA. Our initial approach was to focus on general “enterprise” topics—how to organize analytics, technology architectures for analytics, and so forth. We did find a good reaction to these topics, many of which are covered in this book. Practitioner companies and individual members began to join IIA in substantial numbers.
However, the strongest response was to our idea for industry-specific research. Companies seemed quite interested in general materials about analytical best practices but were even more interested in how to employ analytics in health care or retail, our first two industry-specific programs. That research is not featured in this book—we may do other books on analytics within specific industries—but we did include some of the leading-practice briefs from those industries as chapters.