While this past decade has shown some remarkable advancements in business analytics tooling, we have also seen tremendous challenges arise in their successful use. Why? Very few organizations have the bandwidth to identify what is needed to complete a business analytics solution, unless they have experts on staff and an informed leadership team ready to prioritize and track progress towards their objectives.
When business leaders research ways to improve their business analytics solutions online they are led to the latest tooling by vendors that publish effusive descriptions of their tool’s role in the world. The perspective and analysis can be helpful, but also leaves one believing that success is all about having the right data tool in-house. Dashboarding tools that create dazzling visuals and processing tools that promise to automate machine learning are prevalent, but success in making them work is low. The difference between struggling with a hodge-podge of tools and implementing a complete solution could mean the difference between growth in your market and stagnation.
Figure 1: Compiling Results from a BARC Survey and a McKinsey Study We Find Consistent Differences Between Performers and Strugglers in Business Analytics. We believe adapting your solution to your changing organization and aligning it with strategy is key to succeeding. Here we show performers have management involved and achieve more advanced results faster while strugglers take more time with an organization that doesn’t seem to be working for them. Performers are those that reported meeting their business objectives with analytics, and Strugglers are those that reported failing to meet business objectives in their business analytics initiative.
Your Business Analytics Solution Will Evolve with Your Business
Companies evolve from working on spreadsheets when a single person can analyze their financial and operational details to needing a more shareable, less manual approach. A small business needs a little more collaboration to get its growing team aligned. In that context, access to a single source of truth becomes important. Dashboard tools like Tableau and a small database can help at this stage when a company needs a little more than Excel and Access.
Mid-size businesses start to feel the need to do more without growing their team. This is often the most challenging stage, as mid-sized businesses are too large for a dashboard tool directly connected to raw data but too small to have a dedicated team to manage a custom solution. Mid-sized organizations have the potential to be highly automated and data-driven but often lack the right tools and services to achieve that solution. Blacklight Solutions’ expertise and experience lends itself well to mid-size businesses struggling to define their data analytics needs. Once a company enters the realm of an enterprise, a dedicated team is required to manage and maintain a highly customized solution.
Organizations will experience common symptoms when they attempt to add to a system they have outgrown. The system is no longer setup for their more complex needs. This results in your bogged down system likely not getting the management oversight that it has come to deserve, and miscommunications around it become common. The system is then defined by the tools that have been plugged in, rather than the strategic contribution it is intended to make. For example, people think of it as the Tableau dashboard rather than a centralized point for organizational intelligence.
This all means that as the organization grew, the business case for this solution probably wasn’t seriously revisited. Of course, that business case would need to be updated substantially. As well-intentioned team members try to improve the system, they diagnose the need for more or upgraded tooling. These efforts succeed sometimes as tactical wins, other times they just lead to a frustrating start-and-stop caused by uncoordinated actions between teams. Trying to upgrade these systems often leads to online research that promotes the tools available rather than the strategic needs of your organization. This focus on tools in business analytics is a prevalent malady, causing confusion and wasting time.
Figure 2: Online research leads to a confusing array of tools because companies that sell those tools produce voluminous online content and advice to get your attention. Strategy around your implementation will help clarify the appropriate path in this maze.
There are a few components to a complete solution, they are critical to get right for mid-size businesses. From the data you bring in and how you manage it and make it available to processing that data and applying intelligence to it, each step must be carefully considered. Don’t underestimate what this intelligence can do for you and your organization. A recent survey on the State of Digital Transformation by TekSystems found that “93% of C-suite respondents believe digital technologies could fundamentally change the way people work in their organization” and the same survey found that “84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.” Whether you need to streamline internal processes or create client facing dashboards to improve client experience, it’s time to analyze how data analytics can empower your business’s growth.
In this five-part blog series, we will explore the myths about business analytics alongside recommendations we have seen work for our clients. Part two will focus specifically on Data Lakes which is a place for all your data sources to enter your governance as raw information and make themselves appropriately available for analysis. By the end of the series we hope to convey the importance of investing in analytics through the lens of the business objectives that can lead to more competitiveness in your market rather than an over-dependence on a variety of specific tools.
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