The past decade has witnessed a revolution in how companies make critical business decisions, plan for the future, advertise, interact with their customers, and more. Against the backdrop of the endless race of innovation — defined by disruptive technologies and rising pressure to accelerate speed-to-market — business leaders increasingly forsake anecdotal and reflexive decision-making in favor of evidence-based insights. And it’s paying off: a BARC study found that businesses that used big data were able to increase profits by 8 to 10% and decrease costs by another 10%. What’s more, research from McKinsey indicates that the extensive use of customer analytics can lift ROI by more than 130%.
Unfortunately, many businesses have been sluggish in adapting to the data analytics strategies propelling modern industries. Effectively harnessing the transformative power of data requires nothing less than an all-hands-on-deck approach: alignment among divergent departments, functions, and stakeholders — and perhaps an overhaul of the existing technology infrastructure and operational systems.
It’s understandable, then, why companies aiming to compete in crowded markets might still be wary of change. However, as data and analytics prowess becomes not merely one item in a laundry list of competitive advantages, but the principal differentiator in modern business, the race to create a sustainable, disruption-proof data analytics strategy is an imperative.
Today, more than 83% of executives confirm they’re using data to gain a competitive advantage. To state the obvious, businesses that have yet to create a robust data analytics strategy risk being left behind. Yet even those with comprehensive data analytics strategies may not be prepared to weather the storm of continual market disruption. In fact, fewer than half of all executives believe their organizations are adequately preparing for disruptions to come. Just because a data analytics strategy is effective today does not mean it will remain so tomorrow.
Use the following guidelines to future-proof your organization’s data analytics strategy:
1. Start by choosing the right data.
The widespread transition to more robust analytics has been largely fueled by the ubiquity of powerful data collection tools. But more data should never be confused with better data. Instead, choose specific business problems that must be addressed and select data sets that offer direct insights into those questions.
2. Use data to anticipate the future.
Raw data is essential, but real transformation comes from building analytics models that enable a company to predict — and thus optimize — future outcomes. Use models not to explain your existing data but to hypothesize the relationship between actions and outcomes; hypothesis-led modeling, paradoxically, tends to allow for more concrete data relationships.
3. Cement the relationship between analytics and the day-to-day.
Companies trying to get an analytics strategy off the ground often experience a fundamental mismatch between the current state of the culture and operations and their desired future state. Initial attempts to implement a robust analytics strategy often flop due to a misunderstanding of the methodology, goals, or purpose behind the new initiative. Early conversations among ground-level employees and management can help ensure the new processes complement and supplement existing ones, without simply supplanting them.
4. Choose tools that empower employees.
When asking employees to incorporate data into their decision-making for the first time, set them up for success by choosing intuitive tools with user-friendly interfaces. Placing a layer of separation between the raw data and the managers who use the insights will go a long way in encouraging buy-in.
5. Change your culture and capabilities for the long term.
Even with user-friendly tools and helpful models, most companies will still need a more comprehensive cultural overhaul. Make analytics a core component of your organizational identity with a long-term, multifaceted approach that includes training, incentives, set metrics, and clear role modeling.
Future-Proofing Your Organization Begins Now
Achieving — and maintaining — a competitive advantage hinges not on an immediate transformation, but on a sustainable one. Business leaders should take measured, meaningful steps to source critical data, build helpful forward-looking models, and shift culture over time.
Ultimately, developing and implementing an analytics strategy that will carry a business into the next decade and beyond requires building a framework that takes the company’s unique needs, culture, capabilities, and objectives into account. Any business looking to establish itself as a key player in its sector would do well to partner with a team that can effectively visualize and plan around these critical factors.
SEI consultants pride themselves on their ability to embed themselves in the culture and processes of every client, ensuring they are able to lay out a roadmap that makes sense for the business — and then execute on that plan by working collaboratively with key stakeholders and decision-makers. What’s more, SEI has always been and will always be solution agnostic. In every client relationship, we take a bespoke approach to architecting a data analytics program around the company’s existing structure, business needs, and future goals. Using a combination of custom-made and off-the-shelf solutions, we make sure every part of the business is able to work together seamlessly to drive sustainable results.
Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help elevate your organizational agility through data and analytics.