How to Move Beyond Simply Creating Analytics

Over the years, analytics has evolved from being a limited support function within organizations to a strategic driver of business success. Enterprises have expanded their use of analytics across multiple functional areas and have broadened adoption in order to be more proactive in making data-driven decisions.

Companies are now focusing beyond creation of analytics – they are looking at smarter ways to consume and evangelize analytics.

The Need for an Analytics Roadmap

All organizations in all industries generate data, and the volumes are growing exponentially. Advances in technology and increasing sophistication in business practices have driven companies to a higher degree of adoption of sophisticated analytics, making it a requirement rather than an option. So where does that leave your organization?

Companies have shorter times to react to evolving customer requirements and are faced with continuously changing business environments. The evolution of technology has created several new sources of data and the volume of information generated has exploded in recent years. More unstructured data (such as text, voice and video) is generated that presents both opportunities and challenges for companies. The availability of quality analytics enables as well as spurs companies to react in real time.

In order to chart the most effective analytical roadmap, companies need to combine top-down and bottom-up approaches. With the top-down approach, the leadership of an organization needs to evaluate what the overall goals of the organization are and how the individual functional units align to the goals. The roadmap in this case focuses on getting greater integration among the different business functions and striking the alignment between functional goals and organizational goals. With the bottom-up approach, the enterprise needs to focus on how challenges within individual activities can be addressed by adoption of enhanced tools, techniques or approaches.

For either approach, the organization needs to assemble a task force to create the analytical roadmap through a series of stakeholder interviews and focus groups, followed by collation of results and recommendations.

The key phases are:

Organization Mapping: The objective of this phase is to prepare the organization for the series of interviews and focus groups. In order to do that successfully, the enterprise needs to map its own organization, clearly identifying the functions and subfunctions. For each function, the goals and objectives need to be listed, along with the current activities undertaken by them. The deliverable for the task force at the end of this phase is to have the right questionnaires and schedule in place to conduct the interviews.

Information Mobilization: The objective of this phase is to arrive at an accurate mapping of the current and desired states. During this phase, the stakeholders identified in the previous phase are interviewed to gather all the critical information. This comprises both the top-down and bottom-up approaches discussed earlier.

The key dimensions to be covered in the interviews are:

  • What are the current processes adopted for a day-to-day functioning of the business?
  • What are the current pain points faced – what are the roadblocks in day-to-day functions, as well as what are impediments to executing on additional strategic initiatives?
  • What is the envisioned future state? What is the ideal state, current constraints notwithstanding?
  • What are the industry leaders doing?

Evaluation and Summary: Once the current and desired states have been mapped, the next step is to identify what each business function needs to do in order to get closer to the desired state. Typically the levers available to organizations for bridging this gap are:

People

  • Are the right skill sets and competencies available?
  • Are the available skill sets leveraged to the maximum?
  • Is the bandwidth of available resources a constraint?

Processes

  • Is the right methodology being followed for the different activities?
  • Is there a learning mechanism to adopt more sophisticated techniques where possible?
  • Is the process mature from the perspective of having minimum dependencies on individuals and localized competencies?

Technology

  • Are the right tools being used for the processes?
  • Is technology providing me the right data at the right time and place?
  • Is there opportunity to leverage tools and platforms for greater efficiencies?

In order to get maximum value from this phase, organizations need to ensure that the members of the task force have adequate cross-industry expertise. The different functional units are better served with inputs from best practices from different businesses.

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