Nearly every organization today uses analytics. But not every organization is getting as much out of its analytics as it could. So, how do you truly excel with analytics to deliver the best support for decisions?
- Don’t fail to plan: Doesn’t sound like a secret at all does it? Well, too feworganizations have spent the time to begin with the end in mind. The most successful companies always begin their analytics projects with a clear vision of what is the target. The key stakeholders should be aligned by writing down and sharing:
- What you’re trying to achieve
- Who you’re trying to reach
- Why it matters
- How you’ll measure success
- Use your analytics tool to uncover data quality issues: Don’t let the desire for perfect data be the barrier to very good data. Instead, use your analytics tools to spot abnormalities in your data and learn from them. Then, work with the people who own the data and share your insights; thus helping them fix their processes. By forming partnerships, you can significantly improve your data quality over time.
- Use Good Design: Most of your data consumers visualize data to understand it, so aesthetics play an important role. Like an interior decorator, a good designer can help you develop an intuitive and effective user experience and a great look and feel for dashboards and visualizations. However, data visualization best practices always outrank aesthetic design – every time.
- Repetition, repetition & repetition – learn through play & through doing: Your worst data model is your first one – nobody creates a perfect model for their data on the first try. And that’s OK. Truth is, looking at your data from different angles can teach you a lot about it. Let everyone connect with the data in their own ways — you’ll be amazed at what they discover. Use what they do to inform your strategy (back to #1).
- Be your loudest evangelist! Some software projects are mandatory for users, however, adoption of analytics is voluntary in most organizations. So, if you want people to know you have built a better mouse trap, act like Guy Kawasaki and start promoting it. Recruit your marketing department and sell the value of analytics throughout your entire team and organization.
- You need a champion: Find an influential person or team that has an unmet need and empower them with analytics. This can turn them into true believers by showing them what’s possible. Then turn the spotlight on their success to prove the value of analytics to the rest of your business.
- Build a Cross Functional Team: Selling analytics is simple when it becomes easy to repeat successes and avoid failures. Bring together a cross-functional team and put them in charge of:
- Deciding the role of analytics
- Defining the standards and tools
- Identifying best practices and gaps
- Iterating and improving the solution over time
- Have dual processes: Changing the method of measuring KPIs or profits requires taking your time and getting it right. However, sometimes you have a unique and urgent situation and must develop an app right now to analyze it. Put in place different processes for both scenarios — and accept the fact that it’s OK to build temporary throw-away apps for one‑off projects.
- Reports are so 90’s: Don’t be like most BI deployments that tend to focus on delivering the same out-of-date reports that has been around for decades. Simply describing the situation presented in the data does not provide analytic value for decision makers. You must answer the ‘why?’, not just the ‘what?’. So, shift your efforts to emphasize diagnostic discovery and exploration capabilities.
- What is your data worth? Are you sitting on the proverbial goldmine with your information? Would outside organizations (internal or external to your company) pay good money to gain access to your proprietary data? Or, as some large retailers do, can you use it to add value for your customers or vendors? Take a step back and see the forest – think creatively about all the ways you could monetize the data you already own.