1) Start Where You Are
You'll need to start with an honest self-assessment. Focus on how well (or not) you're employing analytic capabilities, and on which capabilities you need to acquire. Set goals for improvement based on what you find. For example, if your analytic capabilities are divided into business function-specific silos, set a long-term goal of having them integrated across the business functions, and develop a roadmap to get there.
2) Ask Crunchy Questions
Crunchy questions help you find out what really drives value in your business processes and focus on the root cause of outcomes to what happened in the past. They help you understand what's happening now and why, and whether these events are consistent with forecasts and expectations. They also help you watch for expected events and predict what might happen in the future, based on past and current experience.
3) Enhance Signal Strength
With the volume of unstructured data on pace to overwhelm traditional, structured data, it's critical to develop capabilities that leverage the unstructured content that inundates you on a daily basis. Email, video, customer interaction data and social media all provide a depth of understanding that traditional data simply can't. You need to capture it and exploit it, or fall behind.
4) Accelerate Automation
Start by embracing automation, where it's practical. Implementing deep analytics requires automation across all dimensions of your analytics operations. In short, automate information delivery to people and processes and automate responses as much as is practicably possible, so that action can be taken with certainty, and at its lowest cost. Examples of automation include the use of price optimization models, developing compensation plans aligned with profitability data and optimizing vendor contract terms based on volumes and margins.
5) Engage the Users and Visualize
Design data visualization capabilities and interfaces that help business users ask complex questions and get answers quickly. Then, give them the authority to act on the results, based on role and responsibility levels. Involve users in the design of the interface. They'll tell you what they need to do their jobs and when you've got it right.
6) Build a Fact-Based Culture
There is simply too much complexity in the business environment and too much competitive pressure to base decisions solely on gut feelings. Instinct is valuable, but it needs to be supported by data. Start at the top. A CFO who says, "These are the inputs I use to make decisions," will go a long way to facilitate the adoption of those inputs throughout the organization.
7) Practice Right-Fit Analytics
Businesses are unique entities that require unique analytics infrastructures. Just because a toolset is out there doesn't mean it's the right fit for your needs. Therefore, it's critical to set an overall analytics strategy that's right for your particular business and assemble a disciplined, experienced team to implement the strategy.
More analytics resources ...
For a full article on sustainable analytics principles by Jane Griffin, click here. For a video discussion with analyst Dave Wells on taking on business analytics, watch here.