An analytics maturity model that fits

By Aaron Burciaga,

The Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog once offered customers products in three tiers of quality: “good,” “better” and “best.” The price for each product corresponded to distinguishing features that made choices good, and others still better or best. It was an elegant solution for simpler times. These paper catalogs provided customers with an information model for prudent investments in products such as a pair of boots – fitting customers both literally and figuratively according to their needs, resources and size.

The INFORMS Analytics Maturity Model or IAMM (see  [1] and [2]) is now available in a beta version ( It emulates these “good,” “better” and “best” principles in two ways. 

First, the fervor of big data and business analytics have led to a bumper crop of competing analytics maturity models that can be characterized as “home-grown or proprietary” (good), “scholarly” (better) and “impartially developed by a respected panel of experts” (best) solutions. As the largest nonprofit association of analytics professionals with 11,000 members from across academia, business and government, INFORMS is uniquely qualified and positioned to define the new standard. Moreover, use of the IAMM is free; it is not associated with any commercial software or service. 

The second way in which the IAMM is reminiscent of Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogs is that it efficiently organizes information to fit solutions to customer needs, resources and size. One size does not fit all. Thus, IAMM guides you, the user, toward developing an appropriately scaled analytics program making right-sized investment(s). During your assessment, the IAMM will guide you through a process to score analytic maturity in three crucial areas: 1) organization, 2) analytics capability and 3) data & infrastructure. Each one of these three themes is further defined by the four factors shown in Figure 1.

IAMM themes and factors.

The IAMM asks you to answer 12 fundamental questions about your use of analytics. Scores are entered on a 10-point scale that identifies beginning, developing and advanced analytics maturity. You can then view your scorecard along with an important benefit: customized recommendations, along with the ability to set goals, build a plan to incrementally develop the analytics maturity score and track progress over time. 

For example, you may find you are a 3/“beginner” in a category today. Using linked services, benchmarks and best practices, you can determine how and when you can achieve a 7/advanced level. This goal-setting feature identifies what specific actions, policies or investments are necessary to reach that level of analytic maturity. It helps you, your clients and your executives to: 1) Develop and execute action plans; 2) justify resource investments; and 3) target key areas within the business.

You will notice that context for each of your “as-is” and “to-be” scores is enriched by the benchmark information provided according to your industry – baselines by which you can compare your business’ current and goal states against other similar businesses. This unique feature of the IAMM helps you create or maintain a competitive advantage and provides both the rationale and justification for investments.

If you need assistance developing your plan and improving your organization’s use of analytics, you can follow links to INFORMS services that can help you in the areas that are most important to you.

The committee has received questions about the security of data input by users. The INFORMS IT department double encrypts the data to protect users’ privacy. No proprietary data is shared.

IAMM celebrated its soft launch at the INFORMS Big Data Conference in San Jose, Calif., in June. INFORMS IT Director Raj Nigam and I unveiled it for the many participants who turned to INFORMS for expertise in analytics. 

An active team of INFORMS practitioners from respected firms has been developing the IAMM for two years, carefully determining the needs of users and noting the INFORMS model’s unique position vis-à-vis other models. The IAMM Committee is chaired by Norm Reitter of CANA Advisors and includes, Rob Benson (Spinaker), John Poppelaars (ORTEC), Jim Williams (FICO) and Aaron Burciaga (Accenture), with INFORMS staffing by Executive Director Melissa Moore, Communications Director Barry List and IT Director Nagaraj Reddi.

Just as Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogs once met customer needs with tiered products, the INFORMS IAMM provides tailored assessments and solutions for right-sizing an analytics program. Complete your assessment today, fitting you and your business to good, better or best options for analytics maturity at

Aaron Burciaga, CAP, is senior manager, analytics and operations research, at Accenture. Barry List, INFORMS director of communications, contributed to this article.


1. Reitter, Norman, and List, Barry, 2013, “Analytics Maturity Model,” OR/MS Today, Vol. 40. No. 5 (October 2013). Available online at:

2. 1. Reitter, N., and List, B., 2013, “INFORMS Analytics Maturity Model,” (November/December 2013). Available online at: