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In the Analytical Mind Map, Aberdeen research has identified unique personas found in users of analytics and business intelligence products. And in a series of interviews, we’ve talked to real-world examples of these personas as they use analytics in their business. In this article, we find out how a gunslinger is shooting her way past analytics challenges.

This Gunslinger is Director of Commercial Operations at a global supplier of metals for such industries as aerospace, defense, energy, and medical devices. Her purview includes marketing, sales, and contracting and she is responsible for the processes and tools related to these functions. For this gunslinger, ensuring that commercial operations are running as effectively and efficiently as possible means always looking ahead.

“I’m very focused on the future state rather than the current state,” says the Gunslinger. “What do things need to look like six months from now? A year from now? Three years from now? What are the decisions we need to make right now to make that happen?”

The metal supplier recently implemented a CRM tool to get more data around sales people and place a 360 degree view of the customer at sellers’ fingertips. The Gunslinger regularly asks what data needs to be gathered in anticipation of making decisions about the future state of commercial operations.

“I absolutely use data if it’s available, but I’m very comfortable making decisions where there is a void of data.”

Such voids often occur when operational decisions are time-sensitive.

“You need to make a decision and you need to make it now. You can’t spend time getting all the data you might like to have. If you wait too long, you’ll miss the opportunity and ultimately fail.”

When implementing new tools and processes around CRM, the Gunslinger’s primary focus is improving the sales force’s visibility into current sales and opportunities. Every day she spends on waiting for information or performing additional analysis slows down the inexorable march of commercial operations. This is why her experience-driven decision making is essential to her role.

“There are lot of people who are willing to lay out the issues and all the data, but there aren’t a ton of people who are actually willing to make final decisions.”

The Gunslinger wants more decision makers to stand by tough calls, rather than kicking the can down the road and claiming they need more information.

“Companies needs people who step out, make hard decisions, and take accountability for them,” says the Gunslinger.

No decision, no matter how data-driven, is perfect. Mistakes, sub-optimal processes, and reworking are inevitable. By always envisioning the future state and planning accordingly, the Gunslinger can be confident that even a sudden decision will align with the direction operations need to head in.

The Gunslinger believes that accountable decision makers are complemented by Detectives, detail-oriented individuals that can feed them as much information as possible.

“Detectives always want more data, whereas Gunslingers are satisfied with 80% of the data. There is a potential challenge there, but with the right rapport they make a powerful team.”

The Gunslinger also sees the Professor as a useful ally.

“I like to be paired with somebody who is a subject matter expert who has a ton of historical perspective and understands how we’ve done things. As a Gunslinger I profit from their counsel.”

No matter whom she is working with, the Gunslinger is always facing forward.

“We’re operating in aerospace, energy, and medical devices — intensely competitive markets. When windows of opportunity open, all of commercial operations need to be well-equipped to win customers. Decisions have to be made now so we can win big deals tomorrow.”

For more on this topic, read the Aberdeen report Analytical Gunslingers: The Quick and the Dead

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