Chapter 4

Creating Assets

The best teams don’t just generate insight. Instead, they generate information assets that, when applied to business problems, help create repeatable and renewable value. This chapter focuses on five rules that, if followed, help organizations drive productivity, manage risk, and foster competitive differentiation.


Things never go to plan. Make sure you have enough redundancy and flexibility to deal with whatever the world throws at you.

Some of the best insights are unexpected. Even when there’s a well-defined goal, analytics usually has a heavy dose of the unknown. Unlike traditional IT systems, requirements are hard to define ahead of time. The target outcome might be improved fraud detection. Analysts rarely start from first principles; usually, they’ve got a good hunch on what’s likely to work. However, it’s not until they’ve finished their exploratory analysis and built their candidate models that they know what will work.

Their first step is to build a catalog of challenger models. To make an objective choice, they then need to work out which model provides the best predictions. This is a voyage of discovery; until they’re at the end, they’ll usually have no idea what will work. Quite often, the process itself will trigger new insights, which will, in turn, suggest new approaches. Uncertainty is the norm rather than the exception.

Because of this, it’s hard to know the right number of people, the right ...

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