How to Unlock the Potential in Your Business Analytics

September 4, 2014
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ImageWhen scrolling through the App Store, it’s tempting to download the latest addicting game or a translation app to brush up on your French. But all too often, we glace down at our smartphones and realize these apps have gone untouched for weeks or even months.

These apps might be helpful temporarily, but most become little more than distractions in your day-to-day life.

ImageWhen scrolling through the App Store, it’s tempting to download the latest addicting game or a translation app to brush up on your French. But all too often, we glace down at our smartphones and realize these apps have gone untouched for weeks or even months.

These apps might be helpful temporarily, but most become little more than distractions in your day-to-day life.

Similarly, the complicated modeling behind business analytics can often overshadow those useful metrics your company should be focusing on.

Analytics are your company’s map to success. They highlight profitability and losses so you can recognize which opportunities will put your business ahead of the competition. But you need a company-wide commitment and comprehension to realize their value. 

Use Business Analytics to Lead Your Industry

Aggregating business metrics is only half the battle. Translating these numbers into actionable information is the only way to take advantage of your data-gathering efforts. Amazon and Netflix are two industry giants that use data to inform major product changes.

With its anticipatory shipping, Amazon has taken its understanding of data to the next level. The retail company could conceivably ship products before you even place an order. A forecasting model uses data from your prior Amazon activity, including time on site, duration of views, links clicked and hovered over, shopping cart activity, and wish lists. The algorithm also factors in real-world information from customer telephone inquiries and responses to marketing materials to offer Amazon an in-depth view of user needs and behavior and inform new changes.

Netflix is another company reaping the benefits of Big Data. According to its corporate blog, Netflix considers data visualization vital to its success. The company continually uses data visualization tools, routinely tweaking algorithms and garnering new insights. It recognizes the tremendous potential value in these discoveries and unlocks it through aggregating data about genres, viewing habits, and trends to allow customer personalization.

Detailed metrics help companies track performance and further understand consumer needs. But what sets industry leaders such as Amazon and Netflix apart from the rest is their ability to act on this important data. 

Get Your Team on Board

Once you’ve collected key metrics, you have to break them down for employees to truly capitalize on their value. Without a thorough understanding of analytics data and how it drives decision-making, team members might hesitate to employ data-driven initiatives.

To facilitate a smooth adoption process, consider these three tips:

1. Get your team engaged. Your employees have to understand the value and vision to work toward the same goal. If you can show them where they’re going, they’ll show the commitment.

To keep employees on track, use analytics tools such as scorecards that display key performance indicators within a dashboard for each function group. Seeing how they’re performing serves as a constant motivator. Analyzing metrics for each employee can also create healthy competition.

2. Facilitate open and honest communication. Your employees should feel comfortable enough to come to you with their struggles. If they’re having issues, it’s important to identify the problem early so you can help them work toward a solution. Provide time for people to ask questions about data and offer their input on the metrics you’re tracking.

3. Integrate change gradually. To increase the effectiveness of your data collection efforts, make sure your team has the necessary skills to succeed. Analytics training should be a top priority. The resources you invest in training are time and money well spent. 

The value of analytics lies in their ability to deliver better outcomes and drive growth for your company. But defining this data isn’t a complex process — the best measurement frameworks tend to be the simplest. Getting caught up in those unnecessary features is what sets back key decisions and stifles growth.

Follow leaders such as Amazon and Netflix, and determine which analytics best illustrate the wants and needs of your customers. With the full support of your team, you can iterate a go-to product that will improve consumers’ everyday lives.