Ok, sorry, but that headline was clickbait! I’m not going to take on here the question of defining analytics, but only because I’ve written about it before, blogging at last year’s Annual Meeting on this question and in a subsequent longer post elsewhere, Analytics, OR, data science and machine learning: what’s in a name?
But I do have a partial answer here, which came up in this morning’s session on the Guide to the Analytics Body of Knowledge (ABOK), led by Terry Harrison of Penn State and Jim Cochran from the University of Alabama. Next spring you will be able to look for a comprehensive definition of what constitutes analytics by reviewing this body of knowledge that is being written by the cream of the crop of leaders in their areas, including some names familiar to INFORMS members, such as Jon Owen of GM and Gerald Brown from the Naval Postgraduate School. And the ABOK itself is based on the very thorough Job Task Analysis (JTA) that was convened to describe the duties and responsibilities of the analytics profession in order to guide the exam development for our Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) program and now our just-launched Associate Certified Analytics Professional (aCAP) program.
Given the widely varying definitions of analytics and uses of it in practice, INFORMS set about to define standards for the profession through the creation of a certification program. The culmination of that effort is the comprehensive definition that will be statement to the practice of analytics in the form of this body of knowledge. But in the meantime look at the JTA to see how we define analytics and certify its practice via CAP and aCAP. Better yet, test your knowledge and consider sitting for the exam yourself! And if you are training the next generation of analytics practitioners in one of the many new masters programs in analytics, data science, etc. show the world that they know how to do more than manage pivot tables by having your students sit for the aCAP. Some universities are putting together programs so quickly that the content of what students learn varies widely (see an example here, of where math figured in little), so demonstrate that your students have chops by helping them sit for the aCAP. Quality matters!