Shaping the digital future together. Data analytics to provide Chronometrics™ drives the core.
Analytics is the methodology that defines the science behind using regarding how meaningful patterns in data have occurred. Analytics, in the sense used by The Xavier Group therefore, combines understandings of these patterns … and aligns them with situational knowledge from analyses of skills, technologies, applications, and processes used in an organization and its resource supply chain t discovery, interpretation, and communication of findings / results / recommendations o obtain a more comprehensive understanding of its current position and possible “chronometric futures” for that position. Analytics used in this way, helps us gain better, more detailed insights for ‘strategy’ and decision-making; and to drive ‘tactics’ that may deliver an optimal strategic plan, improved strategic management, and business model.
Analytics/analyses as it was used throughout the ages
Since the earliest times, ancient classical philosophers like Socrates, religious leaders like Buddha and Jesus, and ‘Art of War” strategists like Sun Tzu have been telling leadership the critical importance of three things: “To get anywhere — you have to first be truthful to yourself and those you lead. You must know where you are currently, and where you’re going, and how you intend to get there;” or, in other words, you must “Know Thyself;” and in war and/or living and governing within a civilized society you must always “Know your enemy (or rivals).” — Rivals compete. They also oftentimes share. Because of those alliances, they may NOT always be considered ‘the enemy’, but that doesn’t mean they are friends and needn’t be monitored.
“Know” is THE MOST important word here — it means : “to understand in a deep, and intimate, relational manner.” It does not mean to just have a broad overview. Each of these classical philosophers state, in their own ways, that BEFORE YOU FORMULATE ANY PLANS BASED ON STRATEGY, to lead your people in peace or war; or to think, plan, act, do; to compete against a rival; or to plan a way to seek out treasures/livelihoods, contemplate the future, or make critical decisions of any kind — you need to always take a deep dive and build a foundation by researching the situation, your positioning, and your potential and desired outcomes — especially in understanding its impacts on the enemies/rivals, society, etc.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War (532 BCE)
This advice aligned extremely well with the ancient worlds’ view of strategy,
“Strategy,” wrote Thucydides in 404 BCE, “is based on the overthrow of an opponent, or at least in the exhaustion of his resources and hence the ending of the conflict with his surrender or retreat. “Therefore,” Thucydides continued, “leaders must wrestle with how they should best bring their strength’s to bear on the enemy’s weakness, so as to overcome the enemy either by overthrowing them, or by forcing them to exhaust their resources; and they must do this insightfully enough, so while at the same time they do not exhaust their own critical and necessary resources.”
Thus, ancient strategists worked on a theory of overthrow based on force superiority — or when lacking superiority they applied multiple pre-conceived tactics by which to exhaust an opponent’s resources thereby leading to victory.
It was in developing this strategy, that leaders would congregate amongst themselves, with the most learned military, political, and philosophical statesmen available and debate the best way to achieve the strategy — the desired end.
This means that to the ancients, they believed the best way to achieve a positive outcome for their strategy was to orchestrate a collective decision-making approach rather than rely on the choices of a single leader, general, or statesman. At these “meetings of counsel,” the parties would provide analyses of the situation — as seen through their respective strengths, the intelligence they could acquire, and the data they accrued. By using the analyses and its great attention to detail, they found that they would come up with a good strategy … and with all the collective involvement they could achieve optimal execution of that strategy. They would thus unite behind a strategy model based on analyses. This was the strategy approach that was imitated in all parts of life with success, for succeeding centuries.
But, something happened when information became more readily available …
Over the course of history and based on local conditions, tactics continued to change and be upgraded in response to techniques, processes, and advancements in technologies (as they should). But in all that time, the formulation of strategy remained fairly stable in all parts of the world — they were always used to overthrow opponents, or force opponents to exhaust their resources and retreat. This was the strategy and tactics deployed throughout Western history, until the demise of Napoleon and his French Empire.
Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz, analytics for strategy and tactics
At that time, Carl von Clausewitz, the famous Prussian general, military theorist, and social scientist, between 1805 and 1823 wrote an unfinished book “On War,” (beginning to compile it from notes of his personal experiences in battling the French) after Napoleon and his French Empire was defeated in the Waterloo Campaign in 1815. The book was eventually published after he died from cholera in 1832 by his wife. Clausewitz wrote from the perspective of a weak country (Prussia) that had been habitually victimized by its stronger neighbors (France, and Russia) as a means to indicate how they could morally and politically overcome superior enemies “who will always threaten her from east and west.”
Clausewitz especially examined whether war is a means to an end outside itself or whether it can be an end in itself. Clausewitz defined war by comparing a number of definitions including: 1) “War is nothing but a wrestling or boxing match on a larger scale.” 2) “War is an act of force to compel our enemy competitors to do our will.” 3) “War is merely the continuation of political and organizational policy by other means to achieve absolute victory.” 4) “War is a fascinating trinity—composed of, and often initiated by, primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, against a group of people who are to be regarded as an enemy or rival, by blind natural force — an emotion; the play of chance and probability, within which the creative spirit is free to roam — an art; and its element of top-down tactical subordination, as an instrument of organizational planning and policy, which makes it subject to pure reason — a science.”
In On War, Clausewitz sees all wars as the sum of emotions, decisions, actions, and reactions in an uncertain and dangerous “fog of war” context, and also as a socio-political phenomenon. To understand his writings one must understand that he always stressed the complex nature of war — especially as it unfolds on the battlefield. He felt the complexities of the execution of battlefield tactics, which encompass both the socio-political and operational capabilities, must stress the primacy of state or organizational policy (national security interests) to be effective. And, though Clausewitz said he believed “the strength in any confrontation goes to the force that makes the first move — such as executing the charge of the light brigade;” he also believed that “habitual aggressors, who only see the show of force and speed toward conflict as ‘a winning strength’ (always pushing bigger, better, more) in their strategy, are likely to eventually end up as devastated failures in a longer confrontation,” because, “To preserve is easier than to acquire.” (Preserving is also cheaper on the pocketbook and on resources, and thus lengthens survivability.)
Clausewitz, a battle-hardened strategist and tactician, recognized that by focusing on “defense as a tactic” obviously does not mean that the defender will always win (as it depends on available resources and how quickly or effectively they are being depleted). But, the point he made, is that only that “if an aggressor or defender fails — and does so in always maintaining the moral and ethical high ground of supporting the primacy of the cause they were given then s/he accomplished the tactical mission.” He said this, because he understood that “good strategies often deploy operational tactics that may even be meant to fail” — again like the tactics of a seasoned wrestler or boxer.
As a strategist, Clausewitz recognized there are “other asymmetries” to be considered for victory (items that are often overlooked when formulating strategy), as an inferior defender has his/her resources depleted. These asymmetries often fall outside the of the realm of the defender, or aggressor. On War expresses some of these as including: 1) defensive cooperation between the regular army and militia or partisan forces or evangelistic citizens soldiers, and 2) defensive cooperation to shape of outside alliances with resource suppliers, contractors and mercenaries, and even using alliances with lesser enemies might improve odds in battle.
In terms of analytics, while Clausewitz was intensely aware of the value of getting good data and intelligence at all levels, he was also very skeptical of the accuracy of much of what is referred to as intelligence at the operational levels, since humans error in what they observe so easily, and because a savvy opponent will always try to confuse his/her adversary.
He stated, “Many intelligence reports coming in from execution in the field to be assessed are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain…. In short, most tactical and operational level intelligence is false, sometimes because it is biased by beliefs that create fear in the ranks of their superiors, and this is especially so because it is contrived in too short a span of time, to be fully analyzed.”
He felt differently, at the strategic and political policy setting levels. Clausewitz constantly stressed the requirement for the best possible understanding of what today would be called “analytics” Clausewitz acknowledges that speed in decision-making creates friction, that in turn causes enormous difficulties in the execution of any plan, and the fog of war hinders commanders from knowing what is happening so they are more prone to just react based on gut feelings.
Thus, Clausewitz conceived that STRATEGY WAS ‘a political, economic, social, citizenry, and military phenomenon’ which might, depending on circumstances in how it progresses, involve the entire population of a nation or organization. Further, he believed military force, suppliers, and outside alliances were ‘tactical’ resources or instruments that could be deployed at the right time to change the battlefield situations and to better pursue the ends of a political or organizational policy and to achieve great gains.
Clausewitz’s writings became the “Rules for Revolutionaries” in most of the Western World, and became the impetus that eventually led to the fall of the French and Russian monarchies, and certainly to the French Revolution. His methods are still the most read and followed by military and civilian strategists and tacticians to this day.
Enter the 20th Century and the World Wars …
While strategy was stable, analyses methods changed — they became better and more precise — as methods of information flow improved. Information, it turned out, was also a great egalitarian equalizer. Information disseminated eventually to the masses. It placed more ideas and the abilities to critique them in the hands of the common man. But this also caused more complexities in information and intelligence-gathering.
By 1912, two-years before the First World War, the information flow in analyses had become so robust, that it became extremely hard to collectively have the best information available for rapid and sound decision-making. By the time of World War I, Clausewitz’s ideas on operational and battlefield information and intelligence were turning out to be dangerously true. And, those ‘fog of war’ problems worked their way all the way back into the civilian supply chains and companies around the globe that were creating munitions for the war effort. However, during the war years — there just wasn’t time to set aside to come up with a better means of formulating the analyses for intelligence — though many attempts were tried.
World War II, on the other hand, was driven by Clausewitz’s discussed strategy option of an all-out, absolute, or total war. Unlike wars before it, information flow became both an artful science and electronic (moving at the speed of electrons) — as a combined field known as “intelligence.” Unlike the egalitarian forms of information flow before WWII, intelligence operated under the “need to know” approach because “loose lips (knowledge of across seas supply shipments, for example) sink ships.” That approach embedded itself in the top-down command-control of war planners and has been in effect to this day. Further, as WWII progressed, and advanced technologies, like blitzkrieg attacks, aircraft carrier fleets, air attacks, carpet bombing, night attacks, advanced sniper rifling, buzz-bombs (V1 cruise missiles), ICBMs (V2 rockets), jet aircraft, zeppelins, computers, radar, sonar, torpedo bombers, close air support, amphibious attacks, night-vision, nuclear bombs, stealth, and more, changed the scope of global warfare forever; much of all of those military approaches for the first-time trickled into most supporting civilian operations as well. That shift to civilian usage also included military-business practices, top-down/command-control mass production, and strategy/tactics/analytics.
As peace broke out around the world, the developed societies began to make use of these peacetime shifts from the military-industrial complex to rebuild themselves and to manage global trade. And, because the “fog of the situation” replaced the fog of war, civilian intelligence grew to counter that effect; while the ‘need to know’ policymaking made it simpler for management to weigh the advantages of operating using analytics and planned approaches, versus “shooting from the hip — based on instinct.” While it was primarily man versus man in the 40’s-80’s, either approach could provide good results — based on the experiences of the competitors in the local market places. It was also in this period that things became more specialized when it came to information flow — as this was part of the “need to know” mantra and approach.
The result, were that the tasks (of gathering information for analyses) were broken apart, as were the tasks of planning, and using the data — everything became business unit or departmentalized in silos. At the same time, a form of the scientific method (which was the cornerstone of the enlightenment) of “formulating a belief, testing that belief against the data you have regarding the situation, and modifying the original beliefs so as to more effectively achieve the desired outcomes” — altered the culture of the collective counsel, and set the path for the industrial age’s top-down process of managing it.
When the analyses approaches became too cumbersome to make decisions quickly enough to have a proper impact, leaders — who now were trained in thinking and decision-making skills at fine schools and universities — were given, by their stakeholders, the authority to “act and initiate tactics and plans” on the basis of what they knew from ‘any preliminary analyses’ that they could obtain.
The most adept at doing this, built a very-desired reputation for themselves. They were in demand especially at times that required quick-thinking and decisive actions and reactions. Further, some, who aligned their approaches with the personalities of such leaders, began to imitate their methods of attaining success and in a like manner had some limited successes of their own. This counter-analysis movement grew, primarily because it was less cumbersome an approach, and anecdotally achieved good results, if it was supported by the masses who were subordinate to that reputed leader.
Whether one aligns themselves with the collective analyses school of thought, or with those that believe in “the seat of the pants” approach, one still needs to have an understanding of: 1) knowing oneself and the limitations of their abilities and resources; 2) knowing where you are (what resources you have and where they’re positioned), where you’re going, and how you plan to get there; 3) intimately knowing your enemies/rivals; 4) knowing whether you have the internal strengths to overthrow rivals … or 5) knowing that you have inferior strengths and therefore, must apply multiple tactics by which to exhaust an opponent’s resources, forcing their retreat.
The Xavier Group, Ltd. began using various approaches to provide comprehensive analyses of organizations ever since it started as a strategy consultancy in 1981. In the earliest days — every client received a comprehensive situational analysis at the onset, then the analyses expanded that to business, market analyses, and futures-research studies. Xavier did this to provide a deeper understanding that answered the five questions poised in the last paragraph so that clients were guaranteed optimal strategy development. The Xavier Group still uses the situational analyses approach — but it is now backed with a 38 year collective storehouse of data and technological assessments dating back to WWII.
Anticipating that soon the information flow would become so overwhelming that leaders might even begin to freeze, rather than pursuing sound analyses, The Xavier Group, in 1984, developed an electronic data-heavy proprietary analysis modeling and simulation tool on a mainframe-supercomputer which we called “Xavier Chronometrics™.”
Xavier Chronometrics was one of the first ‘modern-day’ “advanced analytics” tool to be used. It was basically a simulation modeller. It’s purpose was to improve the forward-looking vision, insights, and planning when looking at where you are (what resources you have and where they’re positioned in relation both to your industry and the economic environment in which you operate), and finally, where you’re going — for greatly improved decision-making. Because analytics is the multidisciplinary discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns and knowledge in recorded data, as opposed to analysis, a component of analytics, that uses processes to measurably and spatially break down complex topics, or substances, into smaller constituent parts in order to gain a better understanding of a specific issue in which the concept is involved. We felt Xavier Chronometrics was a major advancement in the tools one could use for better analyses and analytics.
Xavier Chronometrics (“Chrono-Metrics”meaning — event patterning in time, and within geometric spatial boundaries) was used initially in the qualitative analyses of disruptive next-generation innovations in technologies. In 1987, Chronometrics was then applied to patterning elsewhere on both a macroscopic and microscopic basis until around 1991, we found evidence that it worked in futures studies (futurology). What it did was to create a better understanding of how, where, and when patterns would most-likely move in complexity and in chaos — and when the patterning was most likely to be able to cause “swarming” interplay and the potential for interfusing.
Analysis vs. Analytics
The analysis of data by uncovering correlations and patterns long-ago replaced guessing and intuition as the preferred way to fuel knowledge discovery and insight. It has worked extremely well for thousands of years. Today, we don’t use the word analysis as much as we use the word analytics — they aren’t interchangeable, so what’s the difference?
Analytics is a broader term representing a dynamic methodology that often combines computer-based data collections with human collection approaches. Analytics includes all approaches to data analysis as necessary subcomponents. Analytics defines the science behind the analysis. The science means understanding the cognitive processes an analyst uses to understand problems and explore data in meaningful ways. Thus, analytics is not so much concerned with individual analyses or analysis steps, but with the entire methodology.
Analysis is the process of breaking down complex topics, or substances, into measurable smaller constituent parts in order to gain a better understanding of a specific issue in which the concept is involved.
Analysis deals with continuous change and using certain processes that attempt to calculate and record their spatial quantities such as the length of a curved line, or the area enclosed by a curve. These mathematical measurements are used to present a broad variety of interpretations that are important for the understanding of things in the physical world.
The word “Analysis” comes from Ancient Greece and means “a breaking up” or “a loosening to provide meaning.”
Business analysis is a method of research to identify business needs so solutions to business problems can be determined and recommended.
Analytics is the multidisciplinary discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns and knowledge in recorded data. It relies on the simultaneous dynamic application of statistics, computer algorithms, and operations research to quantify performance.
Analytics extensively uses mathematics, statistics, descriptive techniques, predictive modeling, machine-learning techniques, neural networks, and predictive/prescriptive modeling to gain valuable knowledge from the dynamic monitoring of changes in data — data analysis. The insights from data are used to recommend action or to guide decision-making. Thus, analytics is not so much concerned with individual analyses or analysis steps, but with the entire methodology.
Business Analytics is the combination of skills, technologies, applications and processes used by organizations to gain insight in to their business based on data and statistics to drive business planning. Business analytics is used to evaluate organization-wide operations, and can be implemented in any department from sales to product development to customer service.
Business analytics solutions typically use data, statistical and quantitative analysis and fact-based data to measure past performance to guide an organization’s business planning.
Why are Analytics so important? … and How do they fit to meet 21st Century needs?
The universe of data and modeling has changed vastly over the past few years. The volume of information is growing rapidly, while opportunities to expand insights by combining data are accelerating. Bigger and better data give companies both more panoramic and more granular views of their business environment. The ability to see what was previously invisible improves operations, customer experiences, and strategy. That means upping your game in two areas.
Often, companies already have the data they need to tackle business problems, but managers simply don’t know how they can use this information to make key decisions. Operations executives, for instance, might not grasp the potential value of the daily or hourly factory and customer-service data they possess. Companies can encourage a more comprehensive look at data by being specific about the business problems and opportunities they need to address.
Managers also need to get creative about the potential of external and new sources of data. Social media generates terabytes of nontraditional, unstructured data in the form of conversations, photos, and video. Add to that the streams of data flowing in from sensors, monitored processes, and external sources ranging from local demographics to weather forecasts. One way to prompt broader thinking about potential data is to ask, “What decisions could we make if we had all the information we need?”
The practice of analytics is all about supporting decision-making by providing the relevant facts that will allow you to make a better decision.