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Should Analytics Take the Place of Experienced Human Intelligence?

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April 04, 2014

Should Analytics Take the Place of Experienced Human Intelligence?

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

For a number of customer service departments, the use of the predictive dialer helps to make the calling floor much more efficient. The dialer can complete many more calls in any given hour than the live service rep plugging numbers in manually. Plus, the predictive dialer can anticipate when the next agent will be available and will route the call accordingly. This is great for streamlined productivity, but does it set the pace for a heavier reliance on analytics that ignores the industry experts?

A recent post on the Midsize Insider took an interesting look at this phenomenon from a sports perspective. Professionals players with the National Basketball Association (NBA) tend to find life after the game working for their favorite or former teams as talent advisers. They bring considerable experience and knowledge to the organization and it gives them a way to use their talents after their bodies can no longer keep pace with the younger players.

What these professionals do not possess, however, is the ability to statistically determine how well a player will perform. They can look at past performance, athletic stamina and skill set on the court, but they can’t use statistical analysis to make a data-driven recommendation. As a result, a number of teams are turning to young experts who are trained in the art and science of analytics.

As most new ball team owners tend to come from the financial world, they are more comfortable with numbers than the game itself. These owners then put analytic-minded individuals in place to run the organization and they use techniques that are familiar to them, producing a new comfort level that often has no room for the former star of the sport.

A similar trend is happening within the midsize IT department. Executives are more focused on the role of technology investments when examining the return on investment. In the process, they are turning to predictive analytics techniques and analytics experts to get the insight they need to make decisions. For the IT manager, they question whether or not these decisions are sound enough for the business at hand.

But there’s always been a problem with relying on the numbers alone and ignoring the inside experts who can contribute their own unique knowledge. For instance, if you assume that every smartphone owner only wants to be communicated with via text, you’re missing an important opportunity to send an email or deliver a special offer through a favorite app.

The predictive dialer is used to streamline an important process, but the human agent delivers the most value during the interaction. He or she picks up on the nuances of the conversation and makes split decisions on how best to handle the customer’s request, taking into account their level of satisfaction or frustration and responding accordingly.

Analytics is important as it provides valuable information in any setting. But it must be coupled with forethought and experience if it is to deliver actionable intelligence. To that end, sports teams need to start recruiting retired players once again to bring that level of knowledge not found anywhere but on the court. 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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