5 Factors to Move Your Data and Analytics From Laggard to Leader

Post by 
Philip Lima
Reading time: 5 min

The past few years have seen a rapid rise in data analytics throughout industries. Organizations who embrace business intelligence are no longer outliers, but increasingly becoming the norm. Meanwhile, business opportunities and technological innovations continue to raise the bar on the subject, allowing even smaller businesses with limited resources to get into the BI game.

And yet, analytics maturity across industries remains relatively low. Companies of all types and sizes might be embracing the concept, but they haven't yet integrated it into their daily operations in a way that is comprehensive and effective. They are aware and beginning to adopt its concepts, but without a major tangible impact or standardization in place.

In fact, 65 percent of organizations according to Gartner's ITScore are opportunistic when it comes to analytics, but only 28 percent have implemented consistent data standards and practices. Hardly any have adopted a consistent data model across the enterprise or used it to transform their business practices.

Continue down this path, and your organization threatens to become a laggard. As others continue to advance and mature, you might get stuck in a sea of data and analytics with little way out. Fortunately, you can move to becoming a leader by shifting just a few core factors in your BI approach. These 5 variables can help you move your maturity from its current laggard level to become a leader in the subject.

1) People

According to Gartner's 2017 Data and Analytics Summit, people are among the biggest factors influencing the BI maturity at your organization. The technology tends to be in place, but matters little if the people in charge of it cannot actually maximize its effectiveness.

First, that means establishing an analytics culture within your organization. CIO has highlighted a number of steps to accomplish that goal, from focusing on areas of strengths to encouraging data-based collaboration. As the website outlines,

Executives looking to bring about culture change in their organizations face a long road ahead of them. This is because changing the analytics culture is not as simple as mandating the use of analytics by every person in the organization. Changing the analytics culture requires careful planning and delivery of information that makes the individual employees successful.

Of course, the skill sets of the people involved also matter. Recruiting the right people, and training your existing employees to embrace a data-driven approach, is the key to building a BI strategy that actually applies comprehensively across your organization.

2) Processes

Along with people, processes tend to be the most common roadblocks to truly achieving analytics maturity. Siloed data and operations environments make it impossible to gain comprehensive information that can actually be analyzed for actionable recommendations. Putting the right processes in place is key to succeed if you want to succeed.

At its 2017 Summit, Gartner shared 6 factors that highlight the ways in which analytics leaders optimize their processes:

  1. Analytic levels, ensuring that the same approach is embraced throughout all levels of the organization.
  2. Sharing of information, particularly to avoid data and information silos than can kill the BI process.
  3. Agile, collaborative development of all reports, software packages, and other factors aided by BI.
  4. Role-based security policies to ensure data integrity and prevent information overload on behalf of individual employees.
  5. Measured data quality, treating each piece of information not equal but according to its priority, accuracy, and importance.
  6. Customer and partner-centric approaches, approaching BI from its end user benefit standpoint.

3) Outcomes

When it comes to business analytics, what matters most? The process itself is crucial to success, but should not be a success indicator on its own. Instead, outcomes of that process need to be considered as the #1 KPI. In other words, a report is not successful just by its creation. Only the actionable outcome of that report should be a success indicator.

A second crucial component of BI is the fact that its outcomes should be external facing. Business process improvements are great, but matter little if they do not result in tangible improvements for major stakeholders, customers, clients, and partners outside the organization. Moving from data laggard to leader has to happen with an external view in mind. 

4) Program Management

In addition to considering the outcome, the management of the BI process itself also deserves special consideration. This is closely connected to the people and process sections mentioned above. If your BI and analytics operations are siloed in their own department or area, they will have little chance of actually transforming the entire enterprise.

Instead, management of your BI program should occur across the organization, with multiple departments involved. It should be guided by executive-level leaders to ensure buy-in and leverage to transform business operations. The more effectively the program is managed, the more likely it is to actually drive organizational change and improvements.

5) Platform

The final component of transforming your analytics efforts to lead your industry are the platforms used. How do you gather relevant data, how can you decide what data actually is relevant, and how do you analyze that data to make improvements? What technology do you use to ensure effective analysis while maintaining data integrity?

There is no single 'best solution' here. Your ideal platform will depend on organizational size and industry, the nature of the data, and your existing structures in place. Instead, one core truth holds: instead of simply finding a platform and 'throwing it' at the program, look for one that naturally integrates with your existing business processes. Transforming your analytics will be more successful if it happens naturally, rather than as a result of complete disruption.

Building a Better, More Comprehensive BI Structure

How can you transform your data and analytics efforts to actually move ahead of your competition? The answer is complex, but can be narrowed down to five core components. Through focusing on your people, processes, outcomes management, and platforms, you greatly increase your chances of moving from laggard to leader.

If you cannot do that on your own, a partner may make sense for your business. Contact us to learn more about our expertise, and how we can help you transform your BI structure and efforts.

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