How to Use Analytics to Empower Your Organization

January 29, 2019
Roman Stanek's picture
Founder & CEO
Roman Stanek is a passionate entrepreneur and industry thought leader with over 20 years of high-tech experience. His latest venture, GoodData, was founded in 2007 with the mission to disrupt the business intelligence space and monetize big data. Prior to GoodData, Roman was Founder and CEO of NetBeans, the leading Java development environment (acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1999) and Systinet, a leading SOA governance platform (acquired by Mercury Interactive, later Hewlett Packard, in 2006).

What separates companies who have used analytics to capture real business value from those who haven’t? What do they do differently?  How does a company become an “empowered analytical organization,” the kind of organization that has a successful data integration strategy that drives everyday business decisions and deliver substantial returns? In a recent Forbes article, I argue that those high-performing companies tend to have four attributes in common.

1. They keep the focus on business outcomes

I know it can be tempting to look at some shiny new technology and think that it’s the answer to all your problems. But the mere act of introducing a new technology isn’t enough to deliver value if you haven’t actually defined what business outcomes you’re trying to achieve. I find that those empowered analytical organizations plan their analytics effort by focusing on their desired business outcomes, and then they ensure that their focus stays on business outcomes. By identifying their end goal(s) first, these companies ensure that they choose a technology that's the right fit to help them meet their goals. Then they deploy those insights to the users who need them to get to that business outcome.

2. They make analytics part of their business process

I find that some companies think of analytics as a box on their checklist of priorities for the year. They make an initial investment, then think they’ve successfully deployed analytics and no additional work is required. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

For analytics to actually deliver tangible business results, companies need to spend some serious time and money on the strategy, talent, and business plan before you see results. In fact, a recent McKinsey study found that two-thirds of high-achieving analytics users spend more than 25 percent of their IT budgets on analytics. If that number scares you, it’s perfectly okay to start with one business case that would help prove the value of using insights to make business decisions and then expand as you identify additional use cases. The important thing is to continuously work to extend the reach of analytics to every business process.

3. They embed analytics in the entire organization

That leads me to my next point: Providing relevant and timely insights has value for everyone at every layer in an organization, not just the C-suite or data scientists. Think of efficiency or productivity improvements for front-line employees using those insights gained from embedded analytics. Deploying insights to as many people as possible helps improve everyone’s decision making. Not only that, but those improvements in efficiency and productivity can deliver tangible business value and help you get closer to the return on investment you’re looking for.

4. They keep the C-suite involved

It may seem like the responsibility of the C-suite is over once they’ve made the decision to begin using embedded analytics, but there’s a lot the C-suite can do to ensure that the use of analytics become widespread within an organization. They can ensure the proper budget is allocated for an in-depth analytics effort, or make additional investments in learning and development. They’re also well-positioned to identify which business processes can be improved through analytics and then prioritize the ones that would make the most immediate business impact. This kind of top-down alignment is crucial if an analytics investment is to succeed and drive continuous business value.

What this boils down to is that analytics need to be just as integral to the way an organization operates as any other business function would. Just like security or marketing, analytics require dedication, planning, commitment, due diligence, and continuous improvements based on lessons learned. Organizations that treat analytics this way will find themselves transforming into the kind of organization that successfully—and consistently—uses data and insights to improve business processes and increase returns. I’d encourage you to read the Forrester Research Report: The New Generation of Embedded BI Will Close the Insights-to Action Gap or the Aberdeen report: Embedded  Survey Driving Toward Analytical Ubiquity with Embedded BI.

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