If Silicon Valley can claim to be the start-up capital of the U.S., can the Washington Metro area claim to be the capital of Analytics for the U.S.?
I recently asked our IBM market research person to do a database pull to see how many customers with the title “analyst” (and related variants) are in the major metropolitan areas. Not surprising, the New York City metro area ranked number one with 21,979 customers, with about14% of those being in the financial industry.
The Washington, DC metro area, however, was number 2 with approximately17,187 customers. Approximately 30% of these identified themselves as being associated with the federal government. The Washington metro statistical population is less than 1/3 the size of than New York city metro statistical population, so on a per-capita basis, Washington can certainly claim to be the mostly densely populated with analysts.
What is unclear from these numbers is whether the analysts are doing Quantitative Analysis, which is what we imply by use of the term “Analytics.” Included in our use of the term Analytics is business intelligence, forecasting, modeling and simulation, optimization, data mining, text analysis, and similar techniques to create meaning from data. So I asked the INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences) Professional Organization how many practitioners that had in each area. Because their breakdown was by state, I compared the NY-CT-NJ number with the DC-MD-VA number. NY-CT-NJ had 225 INFORMS Practitioners. And DC-MD-VA had 367 pratitioners!
Washington is home to a large number of firms that are the powerhouses in the Analytics field. Besides IBM with its large public sector Business Analytics and Optimization practice based in Washington, other companies such as CNA, IDA, BAH, and Mitre come to mind. We also have a large number (more than a dozen that I know of) of small boutique firms specializing in analytics consulting, mostly supporting the government. In addition, we have a burgeoning set of Analytics products companies starting with Microstrategy, but also new small companies such as newBrandAnaltyics and LogiXML.
Michael Porter, in the Competitive Advantage of Nations, argued that certain geographic areas gained a competitive advantage when specialized skills and resources reach a critical mass. For example, in Silicon Valley, the computer companies locating there encouraged programmers, engineers, and venture capital firms to locate there which then encouraged more computer-based companies to locate there.
Have we reached a critical mass of Analytics talent in the Washington area?
Can Analytics become the “Engine of Growth” for the Washington metro area?
Let me know your thoughts.
 Porter, M.E. (1990). The Competitive Advantage of Nations. New York: The Free Press.
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