A previous post explained that solution vendors construct worldviews in which their offerings are optimal and urged prospective investors in Business Analytics to educate themselves accordingly.
A worldview is a ‘framing’ device. As such it pulls certain things into focus, puts others in the middleground, demotes some to background, and leaves much out of the picture altogether. Vendors don’t refer to their worldviews as worldviews, however. Instead they talk about ‘positioning’. Considerable sales, presales, and marketing resources get devoted to the development, refinement and communication of positioning. Vendors are generally very enthusiastic about sharing their positioning with prospects and clients – talking about future product direction is a common example. One reason for this is that vendor worldviews are, for those who have been taught them, powerful and coherent narratives which there is little reason to question.
Most vendors sincerely believe they have the best product, and actually, according to their worldview, they do. Two things enable this belief. The first is confirmation bias, which ensures that positive proof is given more attention that disproof. If my worldview holds that ‘the ability to manage the deployment of models across multiple logical environments’ is important then I will pay particular attention to evidence that this is a client or prospect requirement and be ready to cite use cases. If my worldview holds that ‘the freedom to experiment and develop my own algorithms’ is important then I will have at the ready arguments and examples as to why this matters.
The second enabler of multiple vendor worldviews is arbitrariness. Business Analytics is a large and complex field to which no one can claim exclusive definitional rights. As such there is no ‘official’ way of determining whether different vendor worldviews and substantiating claims are near identical, different but co-existent, mutually exclusive, subsets of each other, or directly at odds. The above two claims in fact have little to do with each other, although the first is typical of commercial software narratives and the second of open source. Who’s to say which is more important?
The lesson here is that organisations investing in Business Analytics need to comprehend and compare each vendor’s implicit worldview, not just their functionality sets. As the earlier post argued, the responsibility for this needs to be owned internally.
It’s also worth noting that vendor worldviews change – faster than the products themselves change.
About usAnalyst First is a new approach to analytics, where tools take a far less important place than the people who perform, manage, request and envision analytics, while analytics is seen as a non-repetitive, exploratory and creative process where the outcome is not known at the start, and only a fraction of efforts are expected to result in success. This is in contrast with a common perception of analytics as IT and process.
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