Gurus among us have proclaimed big data is already going mainstream. You can only be wondering if that has already happened and if not, why? Even many teenagers use Google Analytics to monitor their daily “brand.” The truth is we are already in a meaningful shift when it comes to using data in business. For the first time, it will drive business operations, rather than simply reflecting performance. That’s a powerful proposition for those who use analytics effectively. On the flip side: It could be absolutely devastating for companies who are falling behind.
It’s not what you know. It’s what you do with what you know, and the earlier companies worldwide learn and apply this motto —for better or worse— the better.
If you’re worried your business may have missed the big data boat, you’re in good company. According to the Harvard Business Review, a majority of today’s businesses are “nowhere close” to recognizing the value analytics can bring. The reasons are all-too familiar: Lack of vision, lack of communication, lack of an actual plan. The good news: you can do something about it. Below are just a few things to keep in mind as you assemble—or re-assemble—your strategic big data plan.
Find your North. Create A Route
Like most big changes in any company, management plays a huge role in how quickly their companies will adopt—and adapt—to it. If you are planning to introduce or enhance your analytics platform, establish supporters and mentors in every sector of the company. After all, data is never central. From your front-line customer service team to your top senior executives, the decisions you make based on results and reporting will reach every single layer of your company—including YOU.
Whether gathering data on the front end or making big decisions in the C Suite, every single person in your organization must buy into the value analytics brings. If not, you run two major risks. First, you could end up with dirty data, which is worthless when it comes to making good, solid business decisions. Second, you could amass tons of amazing data insights that are never utilized by your executive teams. Consider creating a dedicated communication campaign surrounding analytics to ensure full-scale penetration and success.
Create A System For Success
One of the biggest mistakes many companies make is not having a system in place to support their analytics efforts. Who is managing it? Reporting on it? Gathering the information? Inputting the data? How often do they do it? How often do they report it? And what about post-collection? Who analyzes the information, and how? If you haven’t outlined these processes, your data will never pay. Get those systems and dedicated employees in place on the front end, before your information gathering even starts.
Indeed, most of us know having an outdated database or pipeline is one of the easiest ways to put a nail in our business’ coffin. The same can be true for your analytics system. MNP notes many companies don’t even know what types of data they have—let alone whether that data is accurate. If nothing else, your data needs to be pure. That means someone needs to be accountable for keeping it that way. Not sure who that person is? Hold off on making any decisions surrounding your analytics program until you do.
Establish Clear, Simple Goals
If you don’t know what you’re trying to find, you’ll never find it. Make time to answer questions like: How will we measure success, effectiveness, and value? And even more importantly, what will we do with the information when we find it?
Keep your goals simple, at least initially. The amount of information flowing our way at any given moment can be overwhelming. by 2020, every person on the planet should generate 146,880 GB a day. If we take into account that the world population will reach 8 billion people by that time, it’s easy to conclude the amount of data we’ll create on a daily basis will rise dramatically. Moreover, IDC forecasts that we will be producing 165 zettabytes per year by 2025. (source) This kind of data flow can lead to “analysis paralysis” turning us into deer caught in the proverbial headlights of “data overwhelm” To help, try to avoid overly complex analytical goals. Start slow, and learn to trust your data through clean, clear results before taking on overly-complicated initiatives.
When used effectively, analytics do far more than validate your company’s path to success. They can offer a new pathway to successful change. If you aren’t open to using it to its fullest, you may as well sit out of the game—just be ready to get left behind!
Indeed, change isn’t just coming, change is here—whether we like it or not. Analytics has the power to disrupt nearly every part of today’s economy, changing everything from how we run our businesses to the type of businesses we run. big data is here to stay. Embrace its potential! It could lead your company to unimaginable levels of success.