Who Cares About Data? A Leader's Guide to Unlock Big Data's Impact Across the Organization

Posted by Taylor Haney on Tue, Nov 4, 2014

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The 2014 MITX Data & Analytics Summit is just 9 DAYS away! This week, leading up to the full-day event, we have some guest blogs written by members of our summit advisory board. Read this post by Dr. Jesse Harriott, Chief Analytics Officer at Constant Contact to get a sneak peak at some of the insights you will get at #MITXData on the 13th. Then make sure you reserve your spot and we will see you there next week!

Jesse Harriott 2Dr. Jesse Harriott is currently Chief Analytics Officer at Constant Contact. Prior to Constant Contact, Jesse was Chief Knowledge Officer at Monster Worldwide where he started their analytics division and created the Monster Employment Index in more than 30 countries. He also led Web analytics, business intelligence, competitive intelligence, data governance, marketing research, and sales analytics depts. for Monster. He has advised many private and public organizations, including the White House, the Department of Labor, the European Commission, and the Federal Reserve. He has authored several publications, including the books Win With Advanced Business Analytics (Wiley) and Finding Keepers (McGraw-Hill).

It’s amazing how the amount of data to analyze has grown so dramatically over the last several years. Some may remember the days before the web, before big data, before social media, and before mobile. When an annual customer survey, a customer database with basic information, and retail purchasing data from a third party or credit reporting information was about as rich – or as detailed – as a company could get. At that time, companies were flying by on less information than they needed, and there just wasn’t the flow of deep customer, competitor, and industry information that exists today. Gut feel, or instinct, was a prized business characteristic and it, rather than data, drove many corporate leadership decisions.

Now, almost every aspect of life can be tracked in one way or another by someone, whether it be data from web behavior, mobile phone usage patterns, in-store shopping activity, public surveillance videos, GPS tracking data, automotive driving patterns, physical fitness data, social media data, satellite imagery, video streams, car telematic data, the list goes on and on. As a result, data is the business focus “du jour.” Companies now all say they are “data-driven” and only make quantitatively based business decisions. However, companies are now also overwhelmed by the data that lies in front of them – the data at their disposal to analyze against critical business questions. The issue today is not the lack of data, but rather how to prioritize, access, and use the deluge of data in real-time to have its greatest impact on the business.

While some businesses don’t even know where to start, others are still struggling to move beyond basic reporting. In some instances, management and executives don’t have a clear understanding of how analytics can impact the organization. This article outlines a non-technical framework to help the business leader extract value from multiple big and little data streams across the organization.

This framework is grounded in the lessons learned from years working in analytics leadership positions, helping companies from large to small, make the most of their data assets. Based on experience, as well as through interviewing other analytics leaders for the recent book, “Win with Advanced Analytics,” several common themes have emerged regarding companies that are successful with analytics initiatives versus those that are not successful. From this knowledge, the framework called the Business Analytics Success Pillars (BASP) evolved. The BASP captures the key activities and similarities that thriving and successful business analytics functions share. The BASP can be used by the analytics professional as a self-check on what is being done well versus what is not done well. The BASP can also be used by a non-analytics business leader to assess what is working with analytics and what is not.

The BASP framework contains seven pillars that are critical to successful analytics implementation. The pillars are not designed to be followed in any particular order. Regardless of the specific situation, the pillar framework can be thought of as similar to the foundation of a house – one needs all of the areas of support in order to make the house stand strong and not collapse. Therefore, the goal of the BASP framework is to focus the organization’s attention on those areas that are key to analytics success and will lead to the greatest return on investment.

The BASP framework is made up of the following pillars:

  • Business Challenges. Align analytics initiatives to the most pressing business problems the organization needs to address

  • Data Foundation. The data foundation that will support the business analytics process must be strong in terms of reliability, validity, and governance.

  • Analytics Implementation. Ensuring that analytics solutions are developed and provided to the enterprise with the end goals in mind is crucial for success.

  • Insight. Analytics must transform data from information into intelligence and insight for the organization.

  • Execution and Measurement. Analytics must be put to work and must lead to organizational action, as well as provide guidance on how to track the results of the actions taken.

  • Distributed Knowledge. Analytics must be communicated in an effective and efficient manner, as well as made available to as broad a group of stakeholders as is appropriate.

  • Innovation. Analytics must be relentlessly innovative, both in analytical approach and in how it affects the organization, by developing solutions that will “wow” customers.

JH blog

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If you would like to learn more about the BASP, as well as how to integrate various types of big and little data assets across your organization, read the book “Win with Advanced Business Analytics: Creating Value from Your Data” (Wiley, 2013)