Org-scale analytics: Today's startups build societies. Do it right.

New opinion piece by Prof. Seth Frey and colleagues in top publication "Towards Data Science"

Org-scale analytics uses data science to compare groups of groups, teams, and organizations.

Slack’s recent $20 billion valuation makes it the flagship in a flotilla of companies that are streamlining the internal dynamics of thousands of organizations. Although Slack’s success has been driven in part by extensive user testing, they are part of a growing group of companies that are doing more than just analyzing how changes in their product affect individuals: they look at how experiments affect the success of entire teams and organizations. Uber, too, evaluates the population-level effects of price changes in a few test markets before rolling them out system-wide. Facebook tests new social features not across samples users, but samples of countries. These are examples of org-scale analytics: large-scale quantitative comparative analyses across not just populations, but populations of populations.

Companies that host platforms and solutions tend to serve groups, not just isolated individuals. Why then do the tools they use to measure success focus on individual users’ outcomes? Org-scale analytics leverages the scope and standardization of modern platforms, the power of modern data analytics and modeling techniques, and high-volume, high-granularity data to compare across collectives such as teams (e.g. Slack), companies (e.g. Salesforce, IBM, and Microsoft), communities (e.g. Facebook), and cities (e.g. Uber). By focusing on the org-scale, firms can transcend a fundamental assumption of individual-scale analytics: that a product’s benefit is the mere sum of its users’ output.

Despite its promise, few analysts currently leverage org-scale analytics, and fewer still have recognized its full potential. Businesses, teams, and classrooms — even MOOCs, sports teams, and video game guilds: realizing that you serve populations that rise and fall together can transform how you see your data, how you build new services, and how you evaluate them in action. By recognizing modern platforms as population-level petri dishes, org-scale analytics brings data science to the next level of analysis.


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