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Data Management // Big Data Analytics
06:00 AM
Jim Schakenbach
Jim Schakenbach

Build a Pro-Analytics IT Infrastructure

Some key steps and guidelines can get your organization ready for a culture of analytics.

When we last talked, we discussed four steps to help make it easier for your company embrace business analytics in Four Steps to Help Your Company Embrace Analytics. Let’s recap with some of the key points and suggestions for getting your analytics initiative off on the right foot:

  • Expand the use of analytics wherever you can.
  • Integrate analytics across your entire organization.
  • Focus your analytics projects.
  • Learn the tools and use them.

I recognized that for some of you, convincing the unbelievers in your organization to truly embrace business analytics and put them to work on a regular basis might be an uphill battle, and I promised to provide you with more ammunition to fight the good fight. I’m here today to deliver on that promise.

Key Elements of a Pro-Analytics InfrastructureTo embrace business analytics and effectively put them to work requires some discipline and structure. To that end, a pro-analytics infrastructure typically incorporates three key elements:

  • Access to high quality, consistent data
  • Access to technology to properly deploy and analyze data
  • Defined data management processes to create a formal, reliable administrative environment

Let’s take a closer look at each of these key elements.

Data access. In the Bloomberg Businessweek survey that I referenced in my last post, pro-analytics respondents indicated that the quality, integrity, and consistency of data was the biggest challenge they faced. However, 75 percent of those respondents who rated their organizations as “very effective” users of business analytics reported that just having data readily available and easily accessed had an unquestionably positive influence on the overall effectiveness of their analytics efforts. Sixty-one percent of very effective users attributed their successful pro-analytics efforts in large part to high quality data access across all business units and functions from a central data source.

Technology access. Of course, all the high-quality data in the world is pretty much useless if you don’t have the tools and technology to utilize it. Surprisingly, some of that technology is remarkably low tech -- 75 percent of those respondents who consider themselves very effective users also consider spreadsheets an analytics tool.

We know better, though, right? To truly manage and manipulate data for effective analytics requires some advanced software, such as apps for data mining, statistical forecasting, predictive analysis and the like. These more sophisticated digital tools need to be integrated into relevant business processes to be put to optimal use.

Formal data management processes.A supportive, reliable, and consistent administrative environment is critical for business analytics. According to survey respondents, three key sets of data-management processes need to be put in place:

  • General data-governance rules and policies
  • Defined data stewardship
  • Master data definitions

These processes and policies don’t have to be overly complex, they just have to be efficient and put to use. Properly implemented and maintained, they provide a fundamental set of data governance guidelines that will go a long way in standardizing and utilizing business analytics.

So there you have it. A concise little strategy for at least initiating a pro-analytics infrastructure that can help your organization utilize all that big data it’s probably already collecting and doesn’t what to do with. Now go put it to work.

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