Data and Analytics Strategy The data analytics era is upon us. Companies are starting to become more open to the promise of data analytics, intrigued by the success of technology leaders such as Google, Facebook and Netflix. Organizations that are considered legacy institutions in industries such as consumer packaged goods, banking and gaming– namely, P&G, Capital One and Caesar’s Entertainment– have also achieved success through advanced analytics. Small businesses are also getting a taste of data and analytics through gateway platforms such as Google Analytics, WordPress and Shopify, which all provide basic, easy-to-use analytics services approachable even to those who have minimal understanding of it.   Yet businesses large and small are faced with challenges that stem from the complexity of developing a data strategy and subsequently deploying it through appropriate tactics. Here are three simple-to-follow guidelines that can help companies clarify their intent to take on data analytics– before signing off its first project.  
  1. Define the role of analytics for the business. We call this the strategic rationale that will guide the analytics journey. Will it serve in a supporting role for the business to operate more efficiently? Will it take on a reporting function that seeks to monitor the performance of business units? Or play a strategic role by creating an opportunity for a new service? Companies must identify a handful of use cases that present the highest value opportunities. This involves developing a list of potential analytics applications and scenarios, perhaps in the realm of big data management, data architecture, or machine learning. Assessing the size of these opportunities in order to help the company decide which ones to prioritize.
  1. Identify critical resources needed. Kickstarting any endeavor requires good project planning skills, and developing a data analytics strategy is no different. A sound data analytics strategy encompasses several dimensions– priorities, platforms, processes and people– all of which need to be accounted for. Lining up available resources as well as planning for those that the company need to procure will help business set the right path toward success. Companies who lack resources in any of these areas may lean on data analytics experts who can fill in these gaps in the short-term as it ramps up its own analytics organization. Even advanced analytics white paper publications can be a good resource for those who are starting out.
  2. Gauge the state of the business to pinpoint the right entry point. Assessing the current business situation is key to determining its readiness to take on analytics. Starting out with simple projects such as BI analytics might prove worthwhile. While a company might have a strong desire to get started on analytics immediately, it needs to be wary of potential missteps that it may fall into due to the lack of executive sponsorship or overlooking critical business issues that need immediate attention.
It’s important to understand that data analytics is a journey, which involves a starting point, defined key phases to set momentum, and constantly moving target goals (because successful businesses never stop growing). While developing a data analytics strategy is intricate, half of the battle is won by setting clear intentions and closely aligning with the larger corporate strategy. Consulting with an expert about data strategy, advanced analytics services or data management to further solidify your plans is a recommended first step forward.