It can be difficult to sift through the myriad of tools, options, and buzz words surrounding today’s complex analytics landscape, and identify an approach and solution that works best for your organization in the short-term, and that is scalable and relevant for the long-term. I have been a proponent of value based analytics for many years, meaning that analytics tools are only enablers and must be driven by the business needs and value to an organization. Some of the challenges and misunderstanding I’ve seen in my experience include:
- The wealth of untapped data
- The need for insights at the pace of creation of information
- Consumer expectations and speed of decision making are driving the speed for insights
- Operational and strategic reporting lines are getting blurred
- Real time is the new normal
- The wealth of tools available to choose from
This leaves many organizations wondering, what do we do and where do we start? You should start with an analytics foundation. Your analytics strategy should be based in the business value you want to derive from the solution. So you start with your end result in mind and build your solution based on that scenario. Think about your software, hardware and information assets that you will build your solution with. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- What pain points in your business do you want to solve?
- What answers are the business looking for?
- What manual processes need to be automated
- What are the information assets available and how can you derive insights from them?
- How can you provide a consistent user experience for the insights?
Building your Analytics Strategy
Once you have considered those questions, you can begin to build your analytics strategy. Items in your strategy to consider include:
- Data and information should be consistence, accurate and timely
- Data should be associated with key business drivers
- Your process should follow a Business Intelligence methodology
- Build governance into your process with report requests, audits and approvals
- Keep your architecture simplified, scalable and supportable
- Make sure the tools you select have the capabilities to support your business objectives
- Make sure the people in your organization have the skills to support and interpret the information
- Build in advanced analytics capabilities to maximize your information assets
- Always test and learn
Reporting is a large part of the Analytics function, but not the only part. Still, it is a highly visible part of the function. Reporting deals with a large amount of data. You need to keep in mind your access to the data, as well as the quality of the data, data types, mapping, level of granularity, timelines and usage of the data. You will want to standardize reports as much as possible and create canned reports with drill downs for easy understanding and accuracy. Because reporting is often misunderstood, here are some tips and tricks:
- Identify and engage stakeholders early and frequently
- Create visually interpretive reports that are easy to understand
- Validate insights regularly
- Create canned reports for standard metrics
- Implement processes and governance from the beginning
- Keep your audience in mind when building reports
Selecting your Business Intelligence Tools
Once you are ready to select your business intelligence tools for your analytics strategy, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Consider the user experience required
- Consider your long term road map and strategy
- Avoid a product first approach
- Do not ignore your past investments, how can your incorporate and/or maximize what you already have invested in?
- A “one solution fits all” approach does not work
- Consider your audience when selecting your tools. What are their skills and capabilities to support the tools you select?
- Focus on the business objectives you want to solve with the tools
- Keep in mind the business disruption and change management of the tools selected
- Consider the user adoption of the selected tools
- How will you measure the usefulness of the purchase?
Are you ready to learn more? Watch the video to identify quick wins for rapid business value, and to prioritize focus areas for analytics.