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2016-10-04

Is Analytics a Noun or a Verb?

English: The syntax tree of noun phrase "...
English: The syntax tree of noun phrase "my neighbour's daughter-in-law" with layered determiner analysis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is Analytics the name of your department, or do you actually "do" Analytics?

Doing analytics requires you to look at your data, apply some logic, and make or support making a decision with the data.


For many years I have built and maintained analytical platforms. These platforms had the core of a Business Intelligence architecture with some one-offs for the occasional "sophisticated" analysis as needed. I was not specifically doing analytics during this time. I knew many of the tools and techniques that were being applied. At times, I was even the one writing the SQL queries to pull the data together to load into SAS for statistical modeling. However, I rarely took it so far as to actually do the Analytics myself. That was not my role.

Now I am in a position where I am the one doing the Analytics, and I see and recognize the impedance mismatch that occurs when I use the term analytics, versus when some people use the same term.


Data Analytics is a very overloaded term in today's environment.  Yet as sophisticated as we may be in evolving from our ancestors simple things still make a big difference.


Using incredibly simple definitions:
A Noun is a person, place or thing.

A Verb is an action, or state of being.


Analytics can be a noun. "I am in charge of the Analytics department!"

Analytics can also be a verb. "I applied Analytics to the data until it gave me the answer!"

Analysis, or analytical thinking is a way of learning from and understanding the data that we have available to us in order to solve a specific problem or answer a specific question.

I think how this word evolved to be a noun is that there have been times where people with analytical skills(verb) were gathered together in one place. In order to have a question answered you had to go to the Analytics department (now it is a noun - place.)

As this place evolved, the people doing the analysis needed support, programmers, managers, project managers, special coders,etc.

Now you can say you work in Analytics and mean the department. This carries some clout with it, because it sounds as if you have the skills and capabilities of those doing the analysis.

Not necessarily. You may learn some valuable things, and through the natural sequence of apprenticeship you may be able to be the one "doing analytics" at some point.

To me, Analytics is a Verb, and it should only be a verb. Using it in any other context is a disservice to the word.






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