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Analytics: Getting the fundamentals right

Filter the sea of information

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An organisation is only as good as the decisions its leaders make. And those decisions increasingly need to be based on soaring volumes of data in data centres as well as emails, tweets, blogs, video clips and more. What’s a manager to do?

A recent Accenture study shows that most executives recognise that stronger growth depends on deriving actionable insights from analytics, many think their organisations are either not doing enough or have not begun the analytics journey.

Interestingly, the top long term objective for a significant majority is to develop the ability to predict behaviours to the point where decisions can be made in real time. Yet nearly 40 per cent of respondents believe that their current technological resources and systems hamper the effective use of enterprise-wide analysis.

I don’t believe that it’s how it has to be. The key thing to remember is that businesses need to build rock-solid foundations before they can erect an analytical ‘Burj Khalifa’*. High performers understand that doing analytics right is not about having the latest software, but rather building ”must have” information management and business intelligence (BI) capabilities. Here are my suggestions for how they can master the fundamentals.

To excel at information management, I’ve found that analytics leaders first ensure that they excel at consolidating and streamlining their information infrastructure. Only then do they refine their logical views of the data. At this level, they are starting to think beyond the conventional notions of how data is organised, accessed and managed. It’s very clear that distributed data is going to become the norm for all sorts of organisations—and they will need new approaches to management, security, compliance and governance.

A good example I’ve found of an organisation making great progress in this area is Proctor & Gamble (P&G). P&G has managed to eliminate thousands of legacy reports and has created new “decision cockpits” which provide executives up-to-date visual data that they can explore in detail.

High performers also establish optimal BI practices. BI is the information needed to run day-to-day business, providing intelligence to describe what happened. An optimal BI practice should factor in both the "first mile" or the points where the data is being captured and analysed and the "last mile" where the intelligence is being delivered to the user. I believe that an important part of the differentiating value in BI today is in that "last mile". In particular, mobile BI is emerging as the new productivity frontier, with several enterprises actively pursuing this opportunity. A global medical sciences company, I know of, for instance, is working to reinvent how it addresses the reporting needs of its staff using mobile devices.

It is now time for all businesses to identify where they are on the analytics journey. There is no single starting point that I’ve come across; some organisations will need to rework their data architectures to integrate all their business processes and get an enterprise-wide view of their operations. Others, with established solid data architectures, can do more to beef up their analytical models and get the most out of their data and content.

* The tallest building in the world


By Nicholas Millman, Process & Information Management Lead, Accenture UK

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