Data analytics is among the most sought-after technology solutions for businesses. A mature analytics strategy can make your company more profitable, more efficient, and more competitive.
But not many teams have the skills to build and execute a successful data analytics strategy in house. Almost 40% of IT leaders admit that they need additional skills in this area, and less than 1 in 4 say they effectively use data analytics to drive successful business outcomes now.
So how can we close the gap between what we know we need and what we actually experience in our organizations? Let’s go through it in three steps:
Step 1: Educate: How Data Analytics Benefits You
There are two keys to driving organizational change with data analytics:
1) Knowing what to measure
2) Learning how to use data insights to make effective business decisions
With the right tools and the right talent you can achieve benefits like these:
Decreasing expenses is the number one way companies say they’re using big data effectively. Analytics identify inefficiencies in your operations—places where you’re spending too much money or where your processes take too much time. You can use that knowledge to tighten up your processes, improve productivity, and cut costs.
Sales, marketing, customer service, supplier management, and product development can all add revenue to your company when you optimize them based on data insights.
Integrating and correlating data throughout your organization can help you identify and respond to potential threats and fraud faster.
Data can predict future customer and employee behavior. You can use that information to optimize your business processes.
Personalization drives marketing, and data analytics can help you create targeted content for specific audience personas based on the kinds of people who most often interact with your brand.
Should you make that purchase or not? Do your employees need additional training? Should you change your onboarding strategy? Is it time to expand into a new market? Launch a new product?
Data analytics can help you answer all of these questions by tracking customer behavior, organizational culture, and employee satisfaction.
Improve Customer and Employee Experience
Both of these categories carry huge ramifications for your success as a business. Data insights help you craft better experiences both online and in person to support your consumer and employee brand image.
Identify Emerging Trends
Track trends in the marketplace and in business operations to determine the direction of your business strategy.
The goal with data insights is to measure current performance and identify areas for improvement or course correction. That’s going to require team members with the technical knowledge both to build an effective data analytics strategy and to pull the right insights from the data itself.
But what about specific applications? How can you implement data analytics to experience the benefits above?
Step 2: Plan: How to Apply Data Analytics Across Your Organization
Your data strategy has the potential to transform your company. As your analytics capabilities mature, you can use them to optimize every part of your organization. Let’s look at some specific ways to do that:
Analytics can monitor customer behavior so you can create personalized marketing content that speaks to specific segments of your target audience. Use data insights to optimize every stage of the marketing lifecycle, from brand awareness to customer retention, including customer analytics, personalization, content strategy and distribution, messaging, brand image, advertising, social media, and more.
Sales and marketing work hand in hand, so the data you use to optimize your marketing strategy often supports sales. Sales data can also be used for demand forecasting, pricing optimization, inventory management, product trend identification, and profit growth.
A clear understanding of analytics and the ability to use them to shape strategy can make or break an ecommerce business. From bounce rate and conversion rate to social media interactions to monitoring traffic sources, data analytics gives you the information you need to reach the right people with the right message at the right time.
Business operations depend on efficiency and effectiveness to achieve goals. Data helps you identify inefficiencies in your operations that may be costing you money or customers. Customer service, resource allocation, staffing decisions, allocation management, transportation, and security can all benefit from efficiency improvements based on data.
Data-driven decision-making helps you optimize your processes, generate revenue, and analyze your market. Analytics answers key questions with data so that you can make decisions that will boost profits and grow your company.
The HR sector is just coming into its own in terms of data analytics. We’re seeing exciting trends in performance management, recruiting, and organizational culture that can be attributed to improvements in data insight. Data analytics serves as a catalyst for improved employee performance, longer retention rates, reduced turnover, improved candidate experiences, and better management practices.
IT is a natural context for data analytics, and nowhere is that more evident than in cybersecurity. As technology has evolved, cyber threats have also become more sophisticated, and it takes better protocols and security measures to keep your data safe. Data analytics helps your IT team assess network vulnerabilities, identify anomalies in device usage or user behavior, analyze macro trends, and detect potential threats before they compromise your network.
This is just a sampling of the many ways to apply data analytics across your organization. If you track it, you can analyze it and use it to improve—but only if you have the right tools.
Step 3: Implement: Putting Your Plan Into Action
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when you’re getting started in data analytics is the potential for “analysis paralysis.” Data comes flooding into your organization every day. If you don’t have good tools and processes for sorting, storing, retrieving, analyzing, and implementing that data, you’ll never see the change you’re hoping for. Here are three keys for overcoming that hurdle:
The Right Technology
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of having the right technology to accomplish your goals. Beware of the temptation to build a platform first without considering your strategy. That’s a great way to end up with an architecture that’s either too rigid or not structured enough. Either way, your team won’t be able to use it effectively. At Worthwhile, we help you analyze your current processes as well as your goals so you can build a technology platform that does what you need it to do.
The Right Team
Data analysts are in high demand, and that’s because they’re essential to achieving the best results from your data. It’s worth investing the time and resources to assemble the right team so you can realize the greatest ROI from your analytics.
The Right Culture
Even with the right technology and the right team, you’ll still have a hard time making progress without a data-friendly culture. The reality is that only 51% of executives fully support their organization’s analytics strategy. In order to earn their trust, you need a program that delivers accurate insights and a track record of good decisions.
Data analytics is a high stakes game. It’s not straightforward, and it’s going to look different for every company depending on your goals and resources. But it’s worth the investment. As your data and analytics capabilities mature, you’ll see the payoff in terms of profit, competitive advantage, and brand trust.