2018 planning (3 of 9): Analytics everywhere


This is the next in my series about planning for the upcoming year. For today’s post, we’re going to dive into data. If you’re like most organizations, you already use data to inform your decisions. You track and analyze key performance metrics and use them to make choices about what to do next. But that’s looking back at things that have already happened. It’s reactive, not predictive. Now that we are living in an era of big data, you can use data to do so much more than you’ve done in the past.

I always enjoy hearing stories about how clients across the board are harnessing the power of data to benefit their business (and their customers). Some of my favorite examples:

  • Coca-Cola ensures it is squeezing every drop of insight it can from the data it collects. Fruits of this data led to the decision to launch Cherry Sprite as a new flavor based on monitoring data collected from the latest generation of self-service soft drinks fountains, which allow customers to mix their own drinks.
  • Air France-KLM has remarkable predictive powers using big data for on-the-spot correlative pattern analysis, particularly for precisely micromanaging timetables, routes, fare changes and reservation desk services.
  • Financial exchanges heavily rely on data to provide powerful insights into economic and market trends. Both long-term foreign direct investment and ­shorter-term portfolios can be viewed as the business and investing communities’ judgment on policymakers’ economic and regulatory decisions. Buying a stake in a company or shares of an ­exchange-traded fund, for instance, could imply a vote of confidence.

The list goes on and on. But how do you get to this level of insight? In their 2018 planning guide for data and analytics, Gartner shares several things we can do to use just-in-time data to drive business decisions. And perhaps even trigger automatic business processes to execute decisions on the spot, without a human having to take action. Here are some highlights:

Design for data

You need to design your entire architecture around gathering data and taking action on data. Gartner suggests a holistic, four-part flow in which your systems acquire, organize, analyze, and deliver data. Each of these steps feeds off the others, with automation built in as much as possible. And you should design the whole flow to help you meet your business goals. Don’t merely gather data and leave it stagnating in some huge data warehouse. Put your data to work. Pop it over to people at the right times. Have it trigger things to happen automatically based on certain criteria.

Set up self-service

It is no longer enough to have dedicated teams who serve as the gatekeepers for your data. Instead, design your data architecture so everyone in your business can engage easily with data themselves, right where they need it. No more poring over large spreadsheets or waiting for the latest report to come out. People need quick access to visual data, right within the tools and applications they are already using. A great way to do this is through machine learning, which can sift through large volumes of data and figure out who needs to see it when and where.

Think cloud first, hybrid now

We have heard this mantra before when it comes to IT itself. It applies to your data, too. The cloud is quickly becoming the place to capture and store much of an organization’s data. Choosing the right cloud provider gives you a head start in this area, as many providers offer advanced analytics. But you also need to consider a hybrid approach where you capture and analyze data from any of your other systems, like onsite data centers or private clouds. You need to be pulling analytics from everywhere, so you can get a complete picture.

Develop data skills

Do you have a chief data officer? Do you have skilled data scientists? Are all of your employees trained on how to find and use data in their roles? These types of roles and skills are critical to helping you figure out how to design and distribute your data. Spend time and energy on leveling up these skills across your organization. Hire the right people. Train others.

Embracing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Perhaps you have seen this mind-boggling stat from IBM. Across the world, we’re creating more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. That number is hard to wrap the brain around. Needless to say, it is more data than a single human could parse through in a lifetime. So the only way to truly harness this much data is through artificial means. You need to be investing in artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve your processes, make operations more efficient, and take automated actions. If you do not yet know how AI and ML can help with your business, you need to start exploring the possibilities. 

Next steps towards success

Analytics and insight are important to your success.  When you choose Binary Tree, you will gain industry leading insight through our solutions' dashboards, administrative solutions, security features, and monitoring capabilities. With Power365's central dashboard giving you insight into your migration processes, Binary Tree helps you gather and analyze your data quickly and efficiently to make the best decisions for you and your organization.  

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The 2018 Planning Series