INFORMS NEWS: Analytics Maturity Model

Why it’s important and how INFORMS is leading

By Norman Reitter and Barry List

In this burgeoning age of analytics, as business and government leaders increasingly adopt analytics to run their organizations better, many in management and among analytics professionals are searching their hearts and asking: Is my organization taking strong advantage of the insights that our data can reveal? How analytically mature is our organization? How can we do better?

This spring, INFORMS will help managers and analytics representatives answer that question and improve their analytical maturity in a way that strengthens organizations, improves processes, betters marketing and increases profits. That’s because INFORMS will introduce the INFORMS Analytics Maturity Model (AMM). The model will help people from organizations of every sort do a self-assessment of their analytics maturity and then identify the INFORMS services that will help them set goals and reach a higher level of analytics maturity. The INFORMS AMM will help organizations create more business value from their analytics.

INFORMS President Anne Robinson and the INFORMS board recognized the importance of creating an INFORMS Analytics Maturity Model in June 2012 when the board did comprehensive strategic planning. While maintaining its strong commitment to its operations research heritage, INFORMS has stepped aggressively into the growing analytics sector with a series of innovations: the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP®) program, Analytics magazine, Continuing Education and now the INFORMS AMM.

Among the earliest INFORMS members to rally and form a committee are Norman Reitter of Syngineering, the committee chair and a past presenter about analytics maturity at INFORMS annual meetings; John Flynn of DRC; and Roundtable member Rob Benson of Spinnaker. They have been joined on the committee by INFORMS Past President Terry Harrison of Penn State University, Jim Williams of FICO and Aaron Burciaga of Elder Research. INFORMS Executive Director Melissa Moore, IT Director Nagaraj Reddi and Communications Director Barry List staff the committee.

The idea of assessing analytics maturity was popularized by Thomas Davenport and Jeanne Harris in the Harvard Business School Press article and book, “Competing on Analytics.” Several organizations have begun developing online models. INFORMS uniquely brings the association’s vast member expertise and large array of services to the INFORMS AMM.
When you use the INFORMS Analytics Maturity Model, you will follow a three-step process:

  1. You will self-assess using a standard INFORMS AMM scorecard to identify your organization’s current state of maturity and future goals based on what you can and want to achieve
  2. You will benchmark your organization against similar organizations
  3. You will develop an action plan for presentation to your organization’s leadership to make the improvements happen

The INFORMS AMM looks at three critical aspects of your organization’s analytics maturity:

  1. Organization – It assesses the organization’s use of analytics, including decision support, awareness of analytics and how well performance is being measured. The business value that analytics provides is included in the factors examined under this theme.
  2. Toolkit (analytics capability) – This focus area assesses the methods, models and services that the organization uses to perform analytics in support of organizational decisions, including the decision framework the organization uses, the analytically focused roles and skills, the analytic services that are used internally by the organization, and how well the analytic processes are integrated with business processes and decisions.
  3. Data – This focus area assesses an organization’s understanding of the quality and health of data and how well it is integrated. How accessible, traceable and automated is our data? How well does it support analytics within the organization?

The scorecard will tell you if your organization’s analytics maturity is low, medium or high, and it will use a numerical score to make this determination. Once you have determined your analytics maturity, you will be guided to appropriate INFORMS services that can help you improve. These include business case examples, recruiting assistance, continuing education in analytics skills, certification, meetings, journals, online and personal networking, and the rich knowledge content that is INFORMS’ signature.

INFORMS is currently working to make this match between diagnosis and treatment strong by identifying association services that already exist in support of improved maturity. The committee and staff are also determining which current services need to be modified and what new service the association should develop to help organizations improve their maturity.
Because an important aspect of the analytics maturity model will be aggregating data from AMM respondents and showing baselines and benchmarks by industry, INFORMS will be able to share aggregate results with a broader world via a long-sought goal of creating an INFORMS index – in this case, of analytics maturity.

The INFORMS AMM committee is currently developing and testing the model with the assistance of INFORMS volunteers who responded to a call for help sent to the Analytics Community, CPMS and the Roundtable. Once development and testing are complete, the INFORMS IT and marketing departments will create the interactive version that will be available on INFORMS Online.

As the INFORMS AMM committee continues working toward a spring 2014 rollout, INFORMS is positioning itself to lead the analytics community in helping organizations improve the business value that their analytics professionals generate. The INFORMS Analytics Maturity Model promises to be yet another strong addition to the new analytics programs that INFORMS is providing both to its members and to the broader analytics community.