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Are Apple and Gartner afraid of analytics?

Rob Enderle | March 24, 2014
In theory, analytics should help firms make key business decisions. In practice, companies ignore analytics because it's likely to tell them the bad news they don't want to hear. This week, the actions of Gartner and Apple illustrated this point to CIO.com columnist Rob Enderle.

What's particularly interesting about the firm's reaction to Haunted Empire is that, the harder Apple tries to kill it, the more people seem to be reading it - and liking it. Yes there are a ton of negative reviews, but they appear to be fake, and there's an increasing number of positive ones as well. Plus, more of us are writing about it now than would have been the case had Apple not attempted to sweep it under the carpet.

Like Jack Nicholson Said, You Can't Handle the Truth

That's my favorite line in the movie A Few Good Men, and it's an excellent point. There are three components that have to be addressed with analytics: The quality of the data that goes into the system, the integrity of the analytical process and the bias of the recipient of the answer. If any part of this breaks, then the result will be invalid and any decision made from it will be wrong.

There should be little doubt in Gartner's mind that it should lead in the use of analytics, given that it's an IT analysis firm. Gartner not using analytics is like a sommelier not drinking alcohol (and with an allergy to grapes to boot).

For Apple, analysis of its customer base would be critical is finding out why it's losing so much share to Android, while analysis of its employees would likely show that many of the conclusions in the book they are trying to kill are in fact accurate. But Apple doesn't want to know either answer. Besides, anyone who found the book accurate would be dismissed, so there's no real motivation to do that investigative work - even though, if Haunted Empire is true, Apple's on a path out of business.

This should be the first question you ask when considering an analytics solution. If the product provides answers that executives don't want to hear, you'll likely be replaced by someone who will manipulate the results to support executive decisions already made or simply let the analytics tool languish.

If Gartner can't handle the truth about analytics and Apple can't handle the truth that Steve Jobs was both critical to the success of the firm and irreplaceable, then what hope do you have unless your executives are willing to be open-minded?

Apple doesn't want to know that Tim Cook was selected to fail by Jobs, who believed he had to be irreplaceable. Gartner is just afraid of change. I don't blame them; change generally kills the dominant company, and we're clearly moving to an era of analytics and social tools that should make the firms' models obsolete unless they make major changes.

 

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