I have been watching the Olympics the last couple of weeks as well as writing a large number of reviews for our annual personnel review process. As I was doing so, it struck me how often the executives that I meet and work with want to know how their infrastructure compares with other companies. So, much like our review process, the first step may be a little self-evaluation. With that in mind here is a short 17 question assessment that you can perform to understand how your environment rates.The assessment will span three areas: data, tools and insights. The data section addresses the quality, completeness and accessibility of your analytics environment. The tools section examines the end-user features that your environment supports, and the insights section outlines key business drivers on which your environment helps you create perspective.

Figure 1: Data

Figure 2: Tools

Figure 3: Insights

I subtitled this column "Keeping Up with the Joneses" because some of the best advice that I can give executives is that newer, faster and shinier is not always better. It is tough when we all read articles, hear stories and attend conferences where every aspect of our analytics environment can be shown to be inferior to someone else's success story. At times like this it is hard to maintain your company self-esteem.

There are two things we should try to remember. One, examine the value of each investment in terms of how it will help improve the return on your customer portfolio. This will ensure that there is strategic business value and not just a desire to get that new, shinier and faster car that everyone notices. Two, if you are not satisfied by this objective standard, perform a secondary comparison to just your key competition within your industry. Very often what is being done across industries is not what is being done by leading-edge companies in yours. This nuance is not always clear when we read articles, attend conferences and hear stories that span industries.

All right, I have avoided the inevitable long enough. Let's talk ratings. Give yourself one point for each below average answer, two points for each average answer and three points for each above average answer. Feel free to give yourself half points if you are somewhere in between. Add your results. Happy ratings.

  • Less than 22: Hopefully customer intimacy is not required to be successful in your industry. If it is, you have a lot of work to do.
  • 22-31: It may be time to start putting together your multiple year plans.
  • 32-41 Selective investments should be examined. Prioritize your changes based on value.
  • Above 42: Are you leading edge or bleeding edge? Stay disciplined.

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