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4 Secrets to Turn Data Into Actionable Insights

Written by GoodData, Cassie Lee  | 

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4 Secrets to Turn Data Into Actionable Insights

When thinking about how to get valuable information from your data, begin with the end in mind. Having a clear understanding of why the project is important will provide guidance for decision-making, alignment among all teams involved, and peace of mind when problems that arise are worth solving. To that end, here are four secrets for envisioning how your company’s data will lead to actionable insights.

1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize: Determine Measurable Business Results

Begin with this question: What are the key drivers of revenue, expenses, and risks in the business area you are interested in? These are the areas where you will be able to leverage analytics to make the biggest impact and achieve the best ROI on your data investment. Estimate the impact on your operations you expect from using your data more effectively, and how the insights you’ll gain will add to your bottom line.

The end goal will be different depending on your business and area of responsibility, and thinking deeply about how this applies to your situation is a key first step. Here are examples of goals for different departments within an organization:

  • For a sales team: increasing sales by fostering competition.
  • For a marketing team: improving campaign ROI by identifying better-performing channels and messages.
  • For a social media manager: analyzing post engagement to improve content creation.

2. Know Your Source — Start With the Data You Have.

Quality input is necessary — but not sufficient — for creating impactful business intelligence (BI) outputs. Consider the difficulty of getting that data on a consistent, automated basis. If it takes manual intervention, try to understand how that affects the initiative and the value it will deliver. For example, if your data is scattered across multiple CSVs or Excel files, think about what it would take to instead go to the source, or include time in your plan for maintenance of these files.

Consider the cleanliness and accuracy of available data as well. It will hamper your ability to get insights from your data if your inventory system typically doesn’t reflect reality because of manual workarounds.

Lastly, don’t limit yourself to only what is available to you at the moment today. Consider key areas where you aren’t generating data today, but could be with new processes. Leveraging actionable, data-driven insights can provide more control over areas where money may be leaking from your business, and the number of new possibilities is increasing tremendously.

3. Evaluate Your Users — Find Out Who Will Be Using the Platform.

Which users within your organization will be consuming these insights, and what actions do you expect them to take as a result? This is a key question to consider in order to ensure the projected business impact will be realistically attainable.

C-level executives may only care about the big picture, while managers are more interested in specific business drivers in their area. Similarly, analysts generally prefer ad hoc data exploration, while business users just want to consume the insights they need.

Make sure you communicate with the future users of your BI system and validate your assumptions. If they don’t agree that the new insights will allow them to make better decisions and achieve better results in their role, you should use that feedback to iterate on your planned approach. Major changes to your plan will be much more costly and difficult once the project is underway.

4. Maintain Existing Workflows: Don’t Make More Work for Yourself

How will your users integrate your analytics system into their daily workflow? Widespread adoption will allow your business intelligence or analytics program to have the greatest impact, so think about how you can make the adjustment easier for the future users to implement into their standard everyday tasks. For example, embedding analytics into an existing system so that no additional login is required can help decrease complications between insights and action.

Also, be aware of the boundaries between your operational and BI systems, and focus on the strengths of each. Your analytics platform should provide insights that help your users make better decisions, but probably isn’t the right place for them to review and edit individual records or take actions on those insights. Work smarter, not harder — try to play to the strengths of each system.

Dive deeper and learn more about How Embedded Analytics Help Businesses Drive Adoption and Growth in our e-book.

Written by GoodData, Cassie Lee  | 

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