With a handful of steps and a strong operating model in place, organisations can begin the process of turning data into value.
This article will look at how to choose the most relevant data, employing the best methods to glean insights, and ensuring those insights have maximum impact. In short, ensuring that you:
- Generate and collect the right data
- Manage and refine your data
- Turn insights into action
- Drive adoption
- Provide the right environment
With the right steps in place, data and analytics will connect with business value in a way that ensures long-term benefits for your organisation.
1. Generate and collect the right data
Begin by understanding your core business goals and define the key questions and hypotheses you want to test. Once this is done, formulate your analysis plan and define the data you need to support the analysis.
This sounds easy, but it is commonly done ‘back to front’. Many initiatives start with the data, only to find that it doesn’t quite answer the key questions later on in the project. By first defining your businesses strategy, and the objectives of your analytics initiatives, you can in turn identify exactly what types of data to generate and collect.
By understanding the driving forces behind your initiatives, and what you want to achieve, data generation and collection can be narrowed down to what is most pertinent.
2. Manage and refine your data
After capturing the right data, it must be cleaned, shaped and organised to prepare it for analysis. This step is essential to ensuring your data is not only accurate, but also optimised for the types of analyses you want to do.
Whilst modern computing can sort and sift data at scale using highly efficient algorithms, human insight can never be underestimated, and expert knowledge will provide an added layer of enrichment. For example, expert labelling of events can guide a machine learning algorithm to generate insight beyond raw pattern recognition.
3. Turn insights into action
Data-driven decision making, based on trusted data and not gut instinct, has become a key-driver of business value. Whether it’s boosting productivity, reducing inefficiency, predicting market trends, or minimizing customer churn, the insights gained from data analysis provide a solid foundation from which to make informed decisions.
Promoting a data and analytics culture within an organisation is key to turning data insights into measurable action, and this starts at the top. Leadership must feel comfortable turning to data not just to validate pre-existing plans, but to help form courses of action in the first place.
4. Drive adoption
If you are considering an investment in a data and analytics initiative, make sure that it is properly adopted and used by your target audience. The reality is that different people have different views on data; some naturally welcome it and are excited by the potential, whilst others may be skeptical or fearful of what it will reveal. A lack of data literacy is a common cause of the latter.
Data literacy is the ability to read, understand, create, and communicate data as information. Much like literacy as a general concept, data literacy focuses on the competencies involved in working with data. Supporting employees to adopt the use of data and analytics in their day-to-day work lives will help yield real value. In some cases it may be necessary to provide training in the form of an ‘Analytics Academy’ to help employees better understand data and analytics, and the methods for implementing the insights gained from it.
5. Provide the right environment
Making the right technology choices is key. People need easy access to insight and analysis if they are to make decisions based upon it, so it is important to get your licensing and adoption model right.
Similarly, data needs to be trusted. Having a centrally sanctioned, ‘curated’ data set that the organisation can use helps to save time in sourcing and managing data, plus it ensures consistency in key metrics across the business.
Following these five easy steps will help to ensure efficiency, consistency and trust in your organisation’s data, as well as the analytics and insight that is produced as a result, all of which will enable your data and analytics initiatives to align and support your corporate strategy.
This article is part of our Data-Driven SMB series. For more information, advice and resources on how to accelerate your organisation’s data and analytics maturity, click here or contact us today.
James is an economist with 20 years of experience spanning the public sector (UK Government Economic Service), large-scale private sector consulting (with PwC and A.T. Kearney), and start-up through to scale-up business growth (with Concentra). Part of the founding team at Concentra Analytics, James established the Analytical Consulting practice and pioneered their brand of data-driven, technology-enabled, analytical consultancy.