The data-driven business is on the agenda in most companies, addressing everything from digitalization of documents, to developing new products and services through intelligent data collection and the use of predictive analytics. But what defines an ambitious data analytics initiative, and what does it take to succeed?
The range of data analytics initiatives are multiple. Therefore, it's important to be aware that not all initiatives are alike, and they need a different degree of focus. There are very different requirements for how a data analytics initiative should be implemented, depending on where on the Data Analytics Maturity Curve the project is positioned.
A data analytics initiative with a well-defined business assignment is easy to understand, and it has a broad acceptance from the employees. In such a project, only some degree of leadership involvement is necessary as well as a minor transformation in the organization when the solution is implemented.
However, it's a different game when initiatives set off in new business ideas. There are high ambitions and curiosity of using data intelligence in developing new services, products or operational workflows. Companies spot new business opportunities without being fully able to define these. However, there are identified upsides, which is why it should be started, even though it’s unclear whether it will succeed.
Businesses achieve better project performance and faster return on investment when the data analytics initiative is thought through to completion from the very beginning.
An ambitious data analytics initiative must be in line with the company's strategic focus. Especially when the initiative’s outcome is expected to have an impact on the company’s core products, services, and processes. It will require an intensive transformation in the business to take on the solution and top management involvement and explicit support are essential to succeed; from start to end.
The initiative’s purpose and results will most likely change during the course of the project. Therefore, the initiative should be monitored closely. When the partial results during project development take a different direction than originally planned, new decisions must be made. This isn't necessarily a problem as long as it follows the company's strategic direction. During the process, you will gain information, you thought was impossible to gain, and you will experience that you can't gain the information, you expected to gain.
Not all ambitious data analytics initiatives should be implemented. If the initiative - despite updates in purpose and expectations to outcome - can't create the expected business benefits, the initiative must be closed down. It shouldn't be seen as a failure. You have become more experienced in working with data analytics initiatives, have gained more insight into what data you have available and what purposes it can be used for. Like any other product development initiative, not all ideas should be carried into effect.
Choosing the right resources makes a difference. By choosing the right competences for the data analytics initiative, you generate the necessary foundation for being able to produce results with high quality. If the right resources aren't available, you should wait or reconsider your priorities. Choose the right data partner if your company doesn't have business data science competences available. The right mix of competences in the project team has a significant impact on the result.
The transformation is what releases the business benefits. Just as a good result is within reach, the risk of not achieving the expected benefits is present. There is a need to invest in the necessary transformation required for new products or services to be effectively incorporated into the business. As for example, the sales force may need to have a deeper understanding of the product to trust it and thereby be able to sell it. It may also be that the solution entails new work routines in production. In all cases, adjustments must be made. The result is just as good as the weakest link.
Try to think the data analytics initiative to an end. Consider the potential directions that may evolve. Companies achieve better project performance and faster profits if the possible outcomes of an ambitious data analytics initiative are thought through before launching the data analytics initiative. Consider the limitations and challenges that the initiative encounters in implementation as well as the directions one can imagine that the new product or service can take along the way - and still be relevant. This exercise supports business management to have realistic expectations to the initiative and be able to make the right decisions as the data analytics solution evolves. This doesn't compromise the agile approach in the execution.
ABOUT Rooftop Analytics
Rooftop Analytics has solid experience in implementing data analytics with significant business value. We understand the prerequisites for succeeding and finding the solution, which best matches your company's needs. We offer our competences for establishing and executing the initiative as well as for the relevant business transformation. We are happy to take on the role as project manager in close cooperation with your company.
Based on our experience we share six crucial advices when executing a data project.
Rooftop Analytics offers services necessary for a successful execution of ambitious data analytics projects.