For years I have told B2B and technology marketing clients that presenting product information to potential customers is not the same thing as selling to them. Information in its raw form is just data, not a convincing marketing message. To make effective use of that information, you have to use it to create a compelling reason to buy. Makes sense, right? Data’s just data. It just lies there until you do something with it.
Business analytics is similar in many ways. It’s the tool used to turn business intelligence into something useful. Without the ability to analyze and act upon the information gathered through business intelligence strategies, companies are simply sitting on top of big piles of big data.
A couple of years ago Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services conducted a comprehensive studyof business analytics and discovered several things.
- Business analytics is still in its relative infancy. Many companies are still using old school techniques for analyzing data, such as spreadsheets.
- Intuition still plays a big role in decision-making, even in companies that have allegedly signed on to a business analytics strategy.
- How to work with all that data is still the number one challenge. Companies continue to struggle with data accuracy, consistency, and even access.
- Many organizations lack heavy-duty analytical talent.
- Companies are proceeding to adoption analytics, but often with a great deal of caution.
So, what about you? Where do you and your organization stand with business analytics? If you’re a data science or IT professional fighting the good fight and trying to make business analytics a bigger part (or, heck, even just a small part) of your overall company strategy, here are four steps that will make it easier for your company to embrace analytics.
Expand the use of analytics wherever you can. Here’s some ammunition: The Bloomberg BusinessWeek study revealed that 97 percent of enterprises with revenues over $100 million are using business analytics, and that trend is trickling down to SMBs. Companies that rely more heavily on business analytics for decision-making report finding it “very effective.” In other words, the more you use analytics, the more effective it’ll be for you. You have to start somewhere.
Integrate analytics across your entire organization. The majority of companies utilizing enterprise-wide analytics find it “very effective” compared to companies that isolate it in just one or two departments. Of course, siloing challenges are not restricted to business analytics -- if your organization is experiencing other problems created by data silos, implementing enterprise-wide analytics will certainly help break down those barriers.
Focus your analytics projects. The majority of companies surveyed reported greater success when they brought business analytics to bear on specific tasks or missions such as product development, marketing, finance, and supply chain management.
Learn the tools and use them. Once again, a majority of the survey respondents – over 70 percent – confirmed the importance of learning and using specific analytical tools, such as key performance indicators (KPIs), data and text mining, dashboards, and forecasting. Organizations that worked the tools hard reported a breathtaking 20 percentage point advantage over companies that did not.
OK, now it’s your turn. Embrace these four steps and run with them. Bring the business analytics fight to the unbelievers in your organization and show them the light. Don’t worry, I’ll have more ammunition for you in my next post, where we’ll talk about building a pro-analytics infrastructure.