It seems like every day another report comes out highlighting that those companies who use data really well, generate the most successful outcomes. A recent Forbes report highlights this nicely:
"57% of high performance sales teams rely on sales analytics, compared to 16% of underperforming counterparts. A high performing sales organisation is on average 3.5X more likely to use analytics daily in their prospecting and selling efforts."
More and more people are absorbing these facts and at times, the analytics industry is very quick to recite them in the pursuit of sales; but what about the full story? If you search, there will be a notable number of reports telling us that companies are experiencing far too many big data failures and a lack of Return On Investment (ROI). So how do we manage these hidden risks?
It all starts here - if leadership is not made a top priority at a board level, you will not succeed. Data is a critical asset and you need to treat it as such. The business case needs to be compelling, evidence based and showing case studies where ROI has been delivered. Your top team needs to share the passion. A compelling vision needs to be created - art of the possible.
Most companies do not truly understand the curve - it is a great way to assess your analytical maturity:
Don't be phased, data nirvana is a journey. Develop a phased set of goals against the vision and curve. However, don't forget the less sexy lower end - all parts have a key role to play.
'Rubbish in, rubbish out' still rings true. Understand your data quality. Assess the results and impact against your business intelligence strategy and organisational goals. Set a plan to improve the data that will yield the greatest analytical benefits - those that drive the key business outcomes. Once you have done all you can, consider cleansing techniques - both human and technology driven (watch the costs!).
Do not fall into the trap of investing money in 'traditional' analytic packages without doing the research. Explore the rapidly changing market - analytic solutions are becoming more flexible (have it your way) and at a budget to suit you - even subscription based. Remember that you are looking for the maximum ROI. Assess costs vs benefits; you don't have to have a Rolls-Royce at day one. In fact, if that is what you aim for on day one, you may become part of the analytical failure chronicles.
This all depends on the size of your company. Again, put the ROI at the front of your decision making. If you are a larger company, you need a mix of skills on your team. One of the most important is finding someone who can bridge analytics and business - the data scientist. Finding a good one is expensive and difficult - some call them 'unicorns'. They blend Math/Stats, programming, domain knowledge/soft skills and communication/visualisation. A good route for small businesses or non-profits is to buy a subscription analytics service, lowering the cost and risk.
Business intelligence is there to drive your business decision making and action. Most of this happens on the front line, day in, day out. Ensure your staff understands what is required, show them what is possible and build the confidence and belief in what they will use. Link the analytics to what drives the business. Have only one focus - delivering insight that creates action - where and when it is needed.
Focus on the critical areas that drive your vision. Over engineering it will lead to project delays, increased cost and reduced user engagement - ultimately a reduced ROI. Remove all technical jargon, keep everything in plain English…and don't tolerate tech babble from consultants!
If you always remember these tips, unlocking the power of your data will become a reality; better outcomes will become the norm.