Keep Your Focus on Business Outcomes—Not on New Tech

December 18, 2018
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).

People are always looking for shortcuts. Who hasn’t painted a room without taking the time to prep or started a recipe without checking to see how much time is required? Then, halfway through, when you’ve realized that you’ve made a mistake by not adequately preparing, you start looking for other options. Maybe you can find a new tool or new process that means you can keep moving forward without going back to the start and correcting your mistake.

Not doing the essential prep work when it comes to implementing analytics at your organization—and then looking to new technology for a solution to that error—is no different. As painful as it may seem to some people, the secret to analytics success boils down to taking the time to prepare, thinking through your business objectives, prioritizing your KPIs, talking to the right people, keeping your data in order, and focusing on business outcomes instead of focusing on the latest technical update or popular technology or vendor.

Take the time to develop a data strategy

Why don’t companies have good data management strategies? Often, it’s because companies simply don’t spend the necessary time to come up with a comprehensive, in-depth data strategy. It takes time and effort. A recent McKinsey report found that high-performing organizations are 2.5 times more likely than their peers to report having a clear data strategy and a thorough understanding of how their data needs to be, and can be,  used. Companies who take the time to define what they want from an analytics platform—including who the target users are, what processes will be affected, and outcomes the company is trying to drive—will find themselves more successful with their analytics. They’ll also find it easier to keep their projects on track and measure success throughout the project and implementation.

If you’ve already started an analytics project and are struggling to see results, don’t be fooled by a shiny new tool or platform. Go back to your data strategy. Even the most advanced platform is of no use to you if you haven’t figured out how you want to use it.

Keep your data in order

Data by definition is hard. Your business is always changing, and that means the data from yesterday is different than today’s data, too. Keeping up with this constant change requires a lot of dedication, commitment, and diligence, so some companies slowly put less and less effort into maintaining their data—then wonder if there’s some mythical technology out there that will work perfectly without the data to support it.  

Put simply, no tooling or platforms will solve your data problem if you don’t have the processes in place to always keep your data up to date and relevant. While it may not sound as fun or exciting as launching some new tool or platform, keeping your data in good working order needs to always be a top priority. If your data hasn’t been cleansed or if it’s inaccurate or out of date, then you’ll never realize its full value that you can unlock.

Focus on business outcomes

The hype surrounding new phones or gaming systems has extended to the tool and platform realm as well, and I find that organizations are not immune to the new-tech hype. But if you get swept up in the hype, take a step back and think about the actual business outcomes you’re trying to achieve. Can this new technology legitimately help you get from point A to point B faster or more accurately than the technology you’re using now? Or is it just tempting to think about taking a shortcut that doesn’t involve developing a better analytics strategy or data governance? In most cases, I think you’ll find that you’ll fall into the same traps you’ve fallen into before—regardless of how new the technology is.

There’s no magic technology that can save you the time or resources necessary to ensure analytics success. When it comes down to it, companies that choose not to take the time to develop a data strategy, get their data in order, or define and focus on their desired business outcomes will find themselves struggling, even if a new technology claims to be your silver bullet.

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