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How ‘infusing analytics’ creates data-driven operational success

Tue, 3rd Aug 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

With the post-pandemic working lifestyle impacting businesses and their staff, operational inefficiencies are becoming widely recognised as priorities for organisations across Australia and New Zealand. In fact, a recent report from Sisense reveals 67% of respondents view business intelligence (BI) and analytics programs as more or much more important to business operations now than before the pandemic.

When an organisation gives their employees access to data analytics, it gives their talent pool access to context to make the best decision for their team, their department and their company — all in real-time.

Many organisations today are accumulating data faster than they know what to do with it. But it's not how much they have; it's the quality and what they do with it that produces the real value.

Businesses are quickly realising that transforming that data into insights is well worth the effort. A data-led approach provides the foundation to a culture that infuses analytics throughout the business and beyond.

Unlocking the value of data to improve business performance: a missed opportunity?

While self-service data analytics has become standard practice, the impact of data has not been fully realised. However, according to a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey, 89% of participants believe analysed data is critical to their business innovation strategy.

The takeaway? Too many organisations are not taking full advantage of data and analytics, creating competitive opportunities for those who dare to think differently.

Respondents in the HBR survey cited a lack of employee skills or training, and inferior data quality as impediments to analysed data utility. Training a diverse workforce to use specialised BI technology is not easy. Convincing them to work outside their comfort zones can be downright impossible. But, to become ‘data-driven,' everyone must participate.

How to overcome the participation hurdle

Infusing existing workflows, processes, and applications with analytics is a seamless way to solve the participation challenge — increasing automation to achieve a streamlined user experience with no complicated tools or technical training required.

Embedding analytics within the employee's standard workflow puts the information front and centre, empowering timely decisions from within that same application. This ability to ‘stay within one's comfort zone' can boost analytics adoption, laying the strategic foundation for a data-driven culture.

In a data-driven culture, where every employee has access to the data they need within their own workflows, data analytics delivers significant benefits. This infusion of analytics offers insights and promotes strategic decision-making on the spot. But to do this right, the C-suite must lead. Placing emphasis on data literacy and decision-making throughout the organisation is the precursor to infusing insights into each employee's daily workflow.

While it is not necessary to become a data scientist to lead a data-centric organisation, a fundamental knowledge of basic data principles is certainly invaluable to executives. These include an understanding of the insights required, knowing clean data is valuable data, and the capacity to pinpoint data gaps. With this level of data know-how, leaders can reshape how decisions are made throughout the operation.

Establishing corporate priorities via consensus enables leadership to define how data will be leveraged and choose technology that drives the adoption of the company's data strategy. 

Unleashing a top-down approach

Facilitating decision-making throughout the enterprise starts with a commitment from the top. Data maturity and C-Suite buy-in around analytics have increased — but there is still a sense of untapped potential to improve data analytics capability in the region.

However, some challenges remain, such as underdeveloped data capabilities, the ability to articulate a business problem, and then measure the data/technical solution in a quantifiable way.

The limits of technology 

Technology, while necessary, can also impose limits on data visibility. Add the rapid amassing of more data, and the issue intensifies. Infused analytics puts data and actionable intelligence in front of those who need it, when and where it's needed. Democratising data is a bold move, but leaders who understand the inherent value of a data-informed organisation know the benefits outweigh the risks.

With an authentic data culture, leaders can introduce more efficient processes that guide innovation and new business opportunities. And while technology certainly plays a role, it's the combination of culture and people supported by smarter processes that power strategic decision-making at every level of the company.

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