A report on the state of analytics by MIT Sloan Management Review shines the spotlight on something many of us know. Analytics isn’t the silver bullet that was going to solve revenue growth and margin pressures just a year or so ago. Sustained competitive advantage with analytics is incredibly difficult, as many firms are realizing. The more mundane and unsexy aspects of analytics, such as data management, are being overlooked by some, and others are “ not prepared for the robust investment and cultural change that are required to achieve sustained success with analytics, including expanding the skill set of managers who use data, broadening the types of decisions influenced by data, and cultivating decision making that blends analytical insights with intuition”. As analytics becomes table stakes, competitive advantage declines unless enterprises commit to sustained and ongoing investments. Healthcare is one of the sectors that has reported the steepest declines in competitive advantage over the past few years, according to the report.

Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, one of the sponsors of the report, holds forth in an interview with WSJ where he makes tongue-in-cheek references to old wine in new bottles. What was “statistics” in the 1960’s is now “analytics”; a remote terminal connecting to a central mainframe is now a “cloud”. He dismisses IoT as just a “slightly improved” version of bar codes (ouch) but expresses great optimism for deep learning, singling out Google’s work with speech recognition.

I came across a recent 2-part interview Knowledge @Wharton did with Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini where he talks about the state of health insurance and about the influence of Yoga and Hindu philosophy on his leadership style. It’s a great read.