Analytics guru grades Canadian firms

Tom Davenport didn’t specifically come to Canada to pass judgement on the analytical capabilities of local enterprises. That was just a bonus.

The Babson College professor and author of Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, was in Toronto last month to discuss some of the research for his book and to provide some insights about how business intelligence tools can help IT departments. His overview included case studies of Las Vegas hotel and casino operator Harrah’s, the Oakland A’s baseball team and Procter & Gamble. The best part came when he looked at some of the best-known companies in Canada. Here’s Davenport’s report card:

RBC: “There’s a tendency in banking to be product-based. The brokerage division, the trust division, they all had their own database. RBC saw their data as assets that belonged to the entire enterprise, not a particular product group. They’ve really come a long way. They have tools where they will now decide if you are worthy of a loan not just based on the money you have, but what your relatives have. You are no longer looked at just as individuals.”

Rogers Communications: “Like most Canadian companies, they’re really in the early days of all this. The industry they’re in is changing a lot in terms of the technology available. Their particular key application is customer value support, where they’re trying to avoid churn. They’ve figured out they don’t need to have separate databases for cable, wireless and TV.”

Hudson’s Bay Co: “They’re focusing on precision retailing. Until recently, merchandising was based on experience and gut feel. Now it’s its own discipline, and it comes out of an algorithm, whether it’s for mark-down optimization or total pricing and merchandising.”

Toronto Blue Jays: “(Blue Jays GM) J.P. Ricciardi is a devotee of this thing, but not aggressively so. I don’t know about the Blue Jays. Maybe now that they’re owned by Rogers we’ll start to see them get more aggressive.”

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