Forward-thinking organisations are increasingly turning to analytics technology to transform data into actionable insight. By analysing structured data (financial metrics, customer satisfaction ratings, response times to issues etc) and unstructured data (mentions on social media, instant messaging etc), businesses can enhance decision-making based on reliable and timely information instead of relying on instinct.
Despite this growing trend, *research has highlighted that just 8% of businesses have fully implemented predictive analytics software across their organisation compared to 41% who are using the technology in isolated departments.
Simon Fowler, Managing Director, Advanced Business Solutions (Commercial division), comments, “Businesses need to think seriously about their long term investment in analytics. By taking some simple steps they are more likely to overcome barriers to adoption and gain powerful insights which deliver tangible benefits throughout their organisation.”
Here, Fowler gives his top tips to help businesses overcome internal scepticism and successfully implement analytics technology.
1. Get the basics right first – Before implementing new technology, establish what data is available, which format it is in, and who owns it to determine whether it can be used. Without solid data management foundations to build upon, organisations will be unable to capture the value from analytics and provide efficiencies.
2. Keep historical data – Many organisations make the mistake of discarding data because they don’t understand or foresee a business case for it. Even if the potential value is unclear, historical data should always be kept as the likelihood is it will eventually become part of a bigger solution in the future.
3. Understand the return on investment – Purchasing analytics software requires a clear strategy which outlines how it is going to be used, what the benefits are and how they will be quantified to engage staff with the results. Unless senior executives understand the value or anticipate a return, they will not decide to invest.
4. Establish a proof of concept – Demonstrating the power of analytics convinces others that it can help to drive actions with tangible outcomes. Developing a proof of concept provides an opportunity to use existing data to test hypotheses of interest against a business’s KPIs. For example, making a link between management quality and sales could highlight the need to act on fresh insight.
5. Make it a business-wide investment – Many organisations view analytics primarily as a tool for formulating strategy and marketing departments. However, the technology presents transformative opportunities for nearly every business function including finance, operations and HR. Given that no department acts in isolation, organisations stand to gain huge benefits by making analytics a business-wide investment.
6. Gain access to the right skills – Employ staff with high numeracy skills who are comfortable analysing large volumes of data, but can also understand the relevance to wider business issues. Organisations should look at their existing people and decide whether they possess the necessary capabilities, or if they need to look externally to fill the skills gap, to move analytics forward.
7. Focus on timely information – Acquiring timely insight is arguably more crucial than having 100% accurate data to realise the benefits of analytics. Obtaining perfect information six months late will lose much of the intended impact, so it is better for businesses to have immediate access to analytics to enable them to quickly do something with it.
Fowler adds, “Modern analytics technology can be used in ways that businesses may not have thought possible to improve operational efficiency, enhance decision-making and realise significant financial cost savings. This is supported by the ability to predict future trends and better explain why something has happened in the past, helping them to get ahead of their competitors.”