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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Struggling to get value out of analytics?

In my conversations with my clients I hear the following phrases a lot:
  • "Too much data"
  • "Not sure what to look at"
  • "Big data is a challenge"
  • "Social network analysis is the only thing we care about"
  • "Can I integrate everything with everything?"
  • "We need to tap into mobile data"
  • "This sounds excellent, but I'm not sure how I could use this"

When I hear these things I feel just as follows:
 and only reason for this is because such companies are going 80 miles per hour and want to go 120 miles per hour in near future - only problem no one is bothered about where there are going so fast.

How to change this situation?
  • Build good communication highways in the company: The biggest issue that I see with organizations is that they do not have enough knowledge about what the smartest guys at the top think and thus do not know where the business is going. In fact, every manager who has a budget for anything in the organization should know the priorities of the company and what those priorities translate to at their level. This will ensure that they get best of the value from the budgets they spend.
  • Build an analytics team that has weight age & data savvy employees: If you are on the bandwagon of being a data driven company then you have to ensure that you value data. Just having a big data platform/analytics platfrom/predictive analytics platform is no good. In most companies the management never cares to ask for data (other than financial data) to make decisions. Also, the analytics managers either do not know the strategic objectives of each level so that they can promote data driven decisions by providing the right data or they are just too timid to voice the stories that find out of the data. So it is very critical for higher management to emphasize the value of analytics in a way that people take "data people" seriously.
  • Hire communicators(story tellers) and not pure statistics people: One of the trend across industry is that people do not use data because they find it hard to understand. This creates a void between stats people and people on the ground executing things. Its absolutely necessary for the analytics team to build a story telling skills set. If they cant take their data analysis and simplify it to a level where they could use the gist to tell a bedtime story to their kids then its too complicated.
  • Build repeatability: Often repeatability is misconstrued to be process. People who equate repeatability and process have it wrong. Process is a way to take away decision making capability away from the agents involved in the transaction. Repeatability on the other hand is a way for having a framework for making decisions regardless of the scenario. It is thus important for management to facilitate a way of working where resources responsible for tasks know the boundaries/constraints within which they can make decisions and approvals or involvement from other groups is required if they are to cross the boundaries. This enables creativity at individual level and increases efficiency. Repeatability framework need not only to be vertical but also horizontal in organizations.

Having  the above four capabilities will bring you to a level where you will start moving along a right direction. Analytics will then not be defined or limited to the capabilities and reports that a particular vendor can provide.

To summarize, if everyone in your organization should know where they are going as an organization and their contribution, and learns to ask two questions "So What?" and "What Next?"