Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Undermining our future as web analysts

My spring tour gives me the opportunity to engage and talk to consultants, practitioners and vendors from all horizons. And I love it!

One thing I'm witnessing: we are undermining our own role as web analysts!

I read "The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains" where Nicholas Carr argues the way we surf & search actually re-wire our brain and develops the prefrontal cortex associated with problem-solving and decisionmaking. "Good!" you might think, "as a web analyst, I'm constantly on the web, searching and solving challenges. My prefontal cortex is bigger than yours!"

But all this brain juice isn't good for your health... and your future...

Easy answer now!

Scientific studies have proven the hypertext world hinges on our ability to focus and develop our deep understanding of a topic. Actually, as analysts we are experts at context switching - or what is known as switching cost. We skim through documents, spot the piece of info we want and up we go! We switch between web, emails, RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter - and that old thing called "phone".
The Internet is an interruption system. It seizes our attention only to scramble it.
I'm saddened to say we do the same with our analysis. Most analysts I've met struggle to go from tactics to strategy. Most of them also face a brick-wall if the answer to their immediate issue isn't found on the net, or if the conference or workshop they go to doesn't provide some kind of magic recipe or to do list.
...heavy multitaskers were much more easily distracted, had significantly less control over their working memory, and were generally much less able to concentrate on a task.
Our strength might very well be our greatest weakness. In our search for immediate gratification we are quickly going into the tactical and forgoing the strategic aspect of analytics and longer term business optimization.