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Key Drivers of Analytics Success

2014-03-September-Jackpot-Winner.jpgOrganizations have hit the jackpot of data. With unprecedented visibility into every type of data, organizations across every vertical — be it healthcare, retail, manufacturing or finance — are turning to analytics to make well-informed decisions and bring value to their bottom lines.

Consuming and analyzing the enormous output of data and making it relevant to business users presents a new scale of problem. To tap into data sources and make smarter business decisions, companies must implement a data analytics strategy built for success.

After witnessing hundreds of organizations across multiple verticals transform business with data-driven insights, we’ve taken note of what characteristics define a successful strategy. Here the “Big 6” success drivers worth highlighting. If you’re a business leader looking to adopt data-driven strategies that bring real result, take note!

1. Clear Initial Use Case

Narrow your focus. Customers with a clear initial use case are able to focus when deploying their initial business intelligence solution. This initial focus speeds up deployment, provides a clear and visible “victory” for the team and makes change management with the end users easier. All too often we’ve seen customers with broad or vague initial uses get bogged down in implementation and ultimately, sacrificing business success.

2. Outcome-Focused, not Feature-Focused

Those that focus on the business outcome they are trying to achieve surely fare better than those that focus on specific features or capabilities. Most customers have prior experience with different reporting tools, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. When changing to a new analytics platform, be open to changing how information is organized and presented to end users to take advantage of the strengths of the new platform rather than trying to shoe-horn prior reports designed in and for a prior reporting environment into the new platform. Aiming at the objective and being flexible in how it is achieved is a big indicator of program success.

3. Iterative Approach

Analytics is, by nature, iterative and customers that have embraced that fact by establishing an iterative design and deployment process achieve greater success than those that attempt a "set it and forget it" solution. Organizations are always learning and evolving and the analytics strategy needs to evolve too.

4. Right Team

Build the right team to guarantee long-term success. In general, the most successful customers ensure that they have these two key roles covered:

  • Strong Champion: The champion understands both data and business value. They consistently point the team toward valuable analytical problems and describe that value to users and executives in the organization.
  • Capable Ninja: The ninja is trained and certified and is the technical engine that makes the Champion's ideas real. This person can either be an employee or consultant, but either way he or she is capable of putting the technology to work.

5. Right Resources

Analytics projects can transform a business, but they need to be resourced appropriately to achieve long-term value. These two approaches work best:

  • Well-funded initial implementation: The best way to get off on the right foot and get people excited about an analytics program is to resource the initial project at the appropriate level to ensure a rapid and low-risk initial deployment.
  • Appropriately resourced thereafter: Analytics transform businesses and the right level of resources needs to be devoted to a BI program for it to succeed. Analytics cannot be a hobby for the Champion or Ninja — it has to be a real part of their role at the organization.

6. Clear and Supportive Executive Sponsor

A clear executive sponsor provides more urgency in deployment and focuses the project on the business value the sponsor is looking to achieve. The Executive Sponsor doesn't need to be actively engaged in each project phase, but they do need to provide the Champion room to run the project as well as provide business feedback on the deliverables delivered by the Champion's team.

These six features have been present time and time again in our most successful customers’ analytics strategies. Try them out, put them to use and see how your organization benefits.

Title image by Christina VanMeter (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC 2.0 license

About the Author

Paul Staelin is the Chief Customer Officer and a co-founder of Birst. He is responsible for ensuring customer success across the customer lifecycle and oversees Birst's Customer Success, Professional Services, Education, Support, Community and Operations teams.

 
 
 
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