Investing in Analytics for the Decade Ahead

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Click to learn more about author Sri Raghavan.  

In our new reality of hyper-disruption, rapid innovation, and evolving consumer expectations, it’s imperative that companies invest in data and analytics to stay competitive as data-driven decisions become the new normal. Furthermore, advanced, automated technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the cloud, and 5G continue to emerge and evolve, disrupting traditional business models while swiftly reshaping the business landscape.

Though it’s imperative for every company to adapt to successfully operate as new industry standards become the new norm, it’s essential to invest in the future. Adopting a forward-thinking mindset — considering five to ten years down the line — will enable companies of all sizes to prepare for new technologies that may help them compete alongside the next decade of winning enterprises. To drive long-term success, decision-makers must ensure their organization’s culture and technological infrastructure, in this case, data analytics tools, embrace their agile and pioneering ethos.

Tackling Company Culture’s Role in Long-Term Success

Your organization cannot successfully identify or implement sound investments for the next decade unless you possess a company culture that promotes cohesion. Culturally, the key features of an enterprise that can make smart, long-term investments include:

Executive Involvement: Most companies position data as if it is a commodity or a problem that needs to be managed rather than a strategic asset. And sometimes, data analytics are pushed to the IT department, which is often treated as a line item — and this can also create silos that reduce the benefits data analytics offer to the enterprise. To get real value, data analytics must be treated as a tactical, company-wide initiative with the end goal of centralizing the data across the organization. For this to happen, executive leadership, IT, and beyond must be aligned regarding analytics investments.

The best analytics choice for an organization will largely depend on the type of company it is. For example, an enterprise’s respective industry determines the kind of information it needs to gather. Its employee base determines the necessary scaling for company-wide success. And its long-term goals and plans determine its analytics needs over the next decade. Based on these criteria, it’s essential that executives understand they may face a multi-million-dollar investment in an analytics program. One key element of securing analytics’ ROI within an organization is utilizing executives across all areas of the business — once aligned on the right approach and priorities to achieve the corporate strategy — to secure a strong backing of support, as well as help promote and enforce adoption.

Clear Metrics and Targets: With executives on board, it is typically easier to identify the correct analytics tool for long-term investment and ensure its success. However, before you reach that point, it’s essential to define what success looks like by setting clear metrics and targets. Before setting up an analytics strategy, begin with the end result in mind by asking yourself, what does your organization want to achieve through analytics? What will it look like when the analytics program is providing enough ROI, and what does it look like when that strategy is no longer serving a purpose and needs to be reconsidered? Defining these essentials before making an investment will help guide decision-making throughout the life of the analytics program.

Data-Backed Strategy: Although it’s becoming critical for enterprises to mine data and leverage insights from data analytics, desired results will not come to fruition unless the organization is committed from the top-down to following a data-forward mindset. This means understanding the unique ways that data analytics can strengthen the bottom line as well as committing to making company decisions based on insights from concrete data, rather than on fleeting industry trends or the opinion of one company leader.

Data is the one essential asset in the company that can drive innovation and fend off disruption now and in the future. If a company truly wants to become a competitive enterprise for the long-term, they must utilize data strategically and understand how to maximize the benefits.

Choosing Analytics Tools for the Road Ahead

When your organization’s culture is set up to succeed using the above elements, decision-makers will make the right approach for leveraging the best analytics tools to achieve long-term success. Some of the key features of analytics tools that will be useful for the next decade include:

Sustainability: Enterprise leaders must look for more sustainable choices to avoid company dollars being needlessly spent on solutions that fail to generate results or positive change. Sustainability is not just a trend; it’s the future of business, and it requires that companies make coordinated decisions that balance overall business improvement with long-term efficacy. Many businesses have opened their organizations up to data silos to be agile and match the industry’s pace. But this creates a barrier, making any sense of cohesion unreachable, which often results in misaligned data, inaccuracies, and serious governance and compliance issues. A sustainable balance between moving quickly and thinking carefully is imperative for long-term success in analytics.

Scalability, Flexibility, and Adaptability: Although a company’s executives may think they have a good idea of where a company will be in the next five to ten years based on historical data and strong internal priorities, things can change in an instant, as we’ve seen time and again in the business world. Global recessions, as well as industry booms, may lie at separate sides of the possibility spectrum, but it’s possible for the economy, as well as a company’s personal health, to jump back and forth between these points several times over the course of a decade. Nobody knows what the future holds, so it is imperative to invest in an analytics program that prioritizes scalability, flexibility, and adaptability to accommodate the peaks and troughs of your company’s future path.

Ease of Use, Especially with Compliance and Regulations: A company’s analytics program is only as strong as its adoption rate within a company. If a tool is too difficult to implement, understand, or use, it cannot be successful in the short-term or long-term. Introducing too many silos and red tape within individual departments reduces self-service capability, often making way for frustration and reducing morale.

It’s also important that teams have sufficient control to do the hard work required to protect, secure, and maintain data and analytics efforts, no matter what regulations may be introduced in the future. And given recent introductions like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) in the State of California, it is a safe bet that companies’ compliance plans must make room for change in the years ahead if they don’t want to face potentially devastating consequences.

As you can see, a company’s culture and its analytics tools must be aligned, data-driven, and forward-looking to successfully become a business of the future. Ensuring these key elements are reflected in a company’s culture and analytics tools of choice can help ensure that their investments meet their future needs in the decade ahead.

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