Tips for Getting Your Company Started with Analytics

It's pretty obvious from all the hype around the topic that many powerful things can be done with analytics, but it isn't always obvious where one should begin. We asked some experts -- they or their firms presented in the Data & Analytics Track at Interop ITX this month -- where they thought businesses should start, and here's what they had to say.

(Image: ismagilov/iStockphoto)

(Image: ismagilov/iStockphoto)

Prove value, not concepts

Some organizations spend too much time trying to get everything in a perfect state before using analytics, which wastes valuable time and overcomplicates what could be a simple beginning. The best way to start is to choose a project that has the potential to demonstrate value without requiring a lot of extra work or heavy investment.

"When we build something that returns value to the organization right away, people start buying in because they see the ROI and the other types of value it provides like efficiencies in the workforce, short time to solution or short time to value," said Kirk Borne, principal data scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton. "It can be something simple."

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For example, a financial services company managed to save $1 billion simply by analyzing web clicks, Borne said.

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Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer

Lisa Morgan is a freelance writer who covers big data and BI for InformationWeek. She has contributed articles, reports, and other types of content to various publications and sites ranging from SD Times to the Economist Intelligent Unit. Frequent areas of coverage include big data, mobility, enterprise software, the cloud, software development, and emerging cultural issues affecting the C-suite.

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Re: Quick hits
  • 6/30/2017 8:10:45 PM

'Quick hits' expresses it well. As you correctly point out, The first step needs to reap buy-in and the small and fast projects works as a confidence builder amongst the team. The importance cannot be overstated in my opinion.

Re: Quick hits
  • 6/12/2017 11:55:02 AM

@louis - Analytics is a powerful tool. Almost anything your organization does can likely be improved with analytics.

But it never ceases to surprise me how many times companies don't have a clearly thought out idea of what they're trying to accomplish. "Be more profitable" is a start, but not enough. Someone needs to be able to answer a few questions about how you want to be more profitable.

Re: Quick hits
  • 6/11/2017 9:51:05 PM


"...Of course the longer the future forecast the less likely the projections may actually work out."

@kq4ym     Love your point here.   It is analagous to the concept of present value in my mind. Meaning a dollar in hand today or a month from now is more valuable than one five years from now.

Thanks for remind me of the beauty of value vs. time. I believe this principle applies to data as well.....

Re: Quick hits
  • 6/11/2017 9:44:51 PM

What is the over-arching goal that we need analytics for? And how does that connect to the mission of our organization?



PC  Great big picture questions to ask.  I agree.  A company really must understand what it is in order to use Analytics most effectively.

Analytics or Not ? That is the Question.....
  • 6/11/2017 9:38:51 PM

Some great advice as usual Lisa. Really companies that are thinking of using Analytics to provide a edge simply have to keep it simple. As you mention, start with something small like shipping charges for instance and use what you learn from that to move towards other areas of inefficency.

This image of Analytics as this complex solution is only one facet of this broad topic. So leverage the people who show interest and start something.

Re: Quick hits
  • 6/8/2017 7:59:58 AM

Yes, as noted chossing a project with the "potential to demonstrate value without requiring a lot of extra work or heavy investment," would seem to be a very prudent way to proceed. But, of course at some point a bit of forecasting the future may be required to determine whether some funds should be set to handle those more iffy projects that may lead to success down the road a bit further. Of course the longer the future forecast the less likely the projections may actually work out.

Quick hits
  • 6/6/2017 10:43:55 AM

Yes, it is always good to have a few quick-hit little projects that can show results. This will certainly help with getting people on board.

This near-term focus needs to be balanced with a larger, long-term vision. What is the over-arching goal that we need analytics for? And how does that connect to the mission of our organization?

Re: Is training essential to getting started?
  • 6/5/2017 7:53:36 PM

Yes. If you're really trying to get to a sustainable competitive advantage, you have to outthink your competitors.  To do that, you have to understand what the software can and cannot do.  If it requires no thought whatsoever and you don't have any questions, you may have trouble attaining the differentiation you seek.

Is training essential to getting started?
  • 6/5/2017 7:29:55 PM

Take advantage of training offered by vendor or solution provider? It adds to the cost but these packages can be complex to navigate without the proper education. This is key question for new adopters of analytics.