April 3, 2018 | Written by: Heather Cole
Categorized: Analytics | Business Partner
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My company, Lodestar Solutions, works with clients from startups to large enterprises with one thing in common: they are all committed to using data analytics to better understand their business and accelerate growth.
Our coaching helps them develop a roadmap on their journey to becoming data and analytics driven organizations. From our point of view, not doing so can have disastrous results.
Consider this incident that occurred a year-and-a-half before the U.S. real estate crash in 2008. As we analyzed the data of a homebuilder, we identified danger signs related to the number of spec homes under construction. The CFO ignored our warning. If he heeded it, he could have predicted the crash and the company might still be in business.
Collaborating with the business
What steps, then, should your organization take on the path to analytical insights?
The foundation of analytical solutions is data – where is it, how do you get at and what should you do with it? If the existing data is bad, you’ll have to start there. But usually the journey begins with discovering the solution requirements, where technical staff collaborates with business people to understand the data they need and how they will use it. Social skills are paramount here. It’s best to drop any preconceived notions and really listen.
This highlights the importance of your team—what we jokingly call “putting the right butts in the right seats.” The key to productive collaboration is assembling a team composed of people who understand technology along with subject matter experts who know the business.
Exploring AI capabilities
As the roadmap develops, consider how predictive analytics could improve the business. What would be helpful to know before it happens? Artificial intelligence (AI) could provide some answers.
Often the vast amounts of unstructured data from Twitter and other sites, or your company archives, can reveal what’s happening and what will happen. Analyzing unstructured data is a core AI capability. And natural language processing can enable non-technical users to phrase analytical queries in everyday language, helping them discover useful insights. If you’re not exploring such options, it’s time to start.
It also pays to fine-tune your solution development processes. We favor Agile and Scrum methodologies, which can speed up the delivery of analytical solutions.
The right partnerships, too, will improve your chances of success. As a small boutique-type company, we can choose to represent any vendor, and each year we evaluate whether IBM is still right for us. We continue to believe in the IBM stack that includes IBM Cloud and SaaS offerings, as well as the new Cognos Analytics that we think is game changing.
Improving the company culture
Somewhere along this journey, your organization should begin to experience cultural changes. The data doesn’t lie, so it starts to hold people more accountable. Collaboration leads to another change. As business people collaborate with technical staff to address analytical challenges, they begin to see IT more as an asset, rather than an expense. These cultural shifts are a welcome consequence of becoming a data and analytics driven organization.
Watch Heather Cole in the the video below to learn more about the work of Lodestar Solutions: