5 ways to improve a data strategy

How to improve a data strategy, given that 76% of UK companies are planning a big data or data analytics project within the next 12 months, according to research carried out by MHR Analytics. Yet many of these projects could be doomed to fail if data from Gartner’s business intelligence and data analytics report is anything to go by.

According to the research firm, projects fail because they aren’t completed within budget or on schedule, or because they fail to deliver the features and benefits that are optimistically agreed on at their outset.

>See also: Data is driving new skill requirements

However, it is clear that data analytics is moving higher up on the business agenda, with nearly nine in 10 (88%) of C-Suite executives agreeing that data analytics and business intelligence will be crucial to the future of their business, according to MHR Analytics new report Plotting the data journey in the boardroom.

So, how can organisations unlock the power of data?

Ideally, big data projects need to be part of a company-wide strategy if they are going to fulfil their potential. A new study, plotting the data journey in the boardroom, lays out a new business intelligence maturity model representing the five distinct stages of the data analytics path to success.

Worryingly, when MHR Analytics asked C level executives to plot their course on the data journey, just a third of companies had reached the transformative level, while a significant minority are still at the very beginning of their data maturity journey and around a fifth are only beginning to develop a Standard-Led approach.

Here are five ways to ensure that your business can get the most value out of their data strategy.

Gain senior buy-in

One of the challenges for organisations is a lack of big data expertise at board level, so it is important to have employees who are passionate and skilled in exploring data and content and who can translate this to the boardroom.

This will help to gain senior buy-in and in turn, promote cross divisional integration. If the CEO is seen to sponsor the programme, or if the role of Chief Data Officer has been established, then the programme is more likely to succeed.

>See also: Why corporate structure needs to change in the age of big data

To do this, employees should demonstrate the potential for competitive advantage in market share, revenue growth and efficiencies, have the confidence to make decisions that are accurate and a true representation of the data, and be able to deal with economic change and minimise any change outside the control of the organisation.

Infuse analytics into key business processes

Boardroom executives have reported that their biggest analytics challenge is the effective up-skilling of staff, followed by developing a coherent data analytics strategy for the whole business and managing business intelligence initiatives by individual department heads.

For organisations to drive maximum value they need to infuse analytics into key business processes. This can be done by identifying key business processes owners and establishing accountability, using continuous methods of review and target setting, as well as educating key process owners in analytics and providing them with the authority to make changes.

Using tools and applications

Only 22% of C-Suite executives say that they are training users to make effective use of business intelligence tools. 39% report that most of their data is held on spreadsheets, with analytics mainly used for one-off requests and reactive reporting, and just under a quarter of these executives could say that their customer data is accurate and up-to-date.

Organisations should be deploying the full range of analytics. Descriptive analytics can help employees better understand what happened, diagnostic analytics can explain why an event happened and predictive analytics can find patterns and see what is likely to happen.

MHR Analytics recommends focusing on the data and its value to the business, rather than the technology.

Think about information as a strategic asset

Organisations should think about information as a strategic asset and use BI and analytics to generate revenue, operate efficiently or provide best-in-class customer service. Users should come from multiple levels within the organisation, as well as from customers and partners.

>See also: Will poor data quality jeopardise GDPR compliance?

All users should trust the information and analysis that systems generate as the basis for making decisions. Organisations should set strategic goals that are relevant, simple and communicated clearly to the business.

Create a shared set of knowledge

A big data strategy and analytics initiative is about creating a shared set of knowledge – a shared set of facts, insights and correlations that helps employees and departments develop a singular view of the organisation.

These insights can empower organisations to serve their customers better and outperform competitors by driving innovation, finding new revenue streams and streamlining day-to-day operations.

For reporting to be effective, companies should establish a singular view of an organisation to promote faster and more accurate decisions and encourage joined-up thinking in the boardroom and a feeling of shared responsibility.

By following these steps, companies can avoid the common pitfalls of big data projects and effectively ensure that they move to next stage of their data journey.


Sourced by Nick Felton, director, MHR Analytics

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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