Do you feel buried in too many reports, enslaved by dashboards and lost in the red, yellow and green of scorecards?  Do you feel like your company has the data you need but just doesn’t quite know what to do with it?  If you are feeling overwhelmed by ‘big data’, you are not alone.  In a recent MIT research study of 3000 executives, 60% of respondents agreed that their organization has more data than it can use effectively.

Often time, when organizations think about managing the variety of data that is now available to them, they start by evaluating a system to house, consolidate and report on the data.  According to Forbes, Big Data & business analytics software revenue will grow from nearly $122B in 2015 to more than $187B in 2019, an increase of more than 50% over the five-year forecast.  The influx of simple to execute, visualization tools have helped to simplify access and views of data but the question to be answered is still “How are my teams using the data to make decisions and drive action?”

In the MIT research study, it was identified that top performing organizations use analytics five times more than lower performers.  In the same study, organizations that strongly agreed that the use of business information and analytics differentiates them within their industry were twice as likely to be top performers as lower performers.  Using big data is key to success.

Beyond just setting up the right tools to view data, using big data involves aligning leadership and defining processes for ongoing integration.  Insights are delivered via cross evaluation of a variety of sources (both human and fact based).  By nature, this means that collaborative techniques will be important to understand how data points (and experiences) work together to form a compelling insight.

A compelling insight is one that is both actionable and delivers commercial benefit.  For analytics-driven insights to be consumed (defined and acted upon) three things must happen:

  1. There must be a clear link to business strategy
  2. Insights must be easy for end users to understand
  3. Insight generation and dissemination must be embedded into organizational processes

Each of these core actions comes back to people, how they work together and how leaders effectively support the use of insights within their defined strategies and processes.

The key to embedding insights into an organization is not a simple one.  I recently worked with an organization that was selling based on relationship only, making decisions on intuition alone, and acting on multiple priorities that had no link to an ultimate strategy.  They didn’t have direct POS data but they had rich access to market research from sister companies as well as store level data that wasn’t being leveraged.  Our initial step was to conduct a thorough review of the information available and then build a category strategy that resonated with the business.  From there, we established project plans, process steps and owners who would put action behind the insights.  With this and ongoing leadership re-enforcement, this company began to uncover insights that drove incremental sales, strengthened customer relationships and focused employees towards a common goal.

So if you are looking to successfully navigate through the challenging pool of data available to you consider your investments wisely.  Before you start to invest in better, bigger tools, take a look at the strategy and leadership required behind insight integration.  Understand the true sources of information available to you and the talent or skills required to define and deliver on compelling insights.  Start with the end in mind and invest in your people first.

Christi Scarrow
Lighthouse NINE Group
One Eva Road, Suite 209 | Etobicoke, ON M9C 4Z5
Office: 416-607-5923

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