By Paul Scholey, VP of International Sales, Sisense
Leading UK data expert Paul Scholey, in collaboration with Forecast, reveals what it takes to boost your business with advanced analytics.
By itself, data is like a bicycle with no wheels. It can’t go anywhere. That’s where the power of analytics comes in. Similar to the wheels of a bike, analytics powers data to reveal meaningful trends and insights, enabling organisations to make key business decisions.
As data sets increase and become more complicated, manual analytics processes become less feasible. And as data gathering evolves, analytics has to keep up. That’s where advanced analytics joins the party. With the use of machine learning, data mining, and advanced modeling techniques, advanced analytics can turn an organisation’s vast amount of data into increasingly accurate predictions.
Even more, advanced analytics can help identify trends and predict the best steps to yield positive outcomes. This helps organisations forge a path of strong and sustainable growth.
Adopting advanced analytics: a story of resistance and confusion
Despite the tremendous value-add advanced analytics can provide, it’s still often met with confusion and resistance in organisations. For example, in the UK, recent research commissioned by Exasol, the analytics database, found that 63% of UK data decision-makers experience resistance from employees in adopting data-driven methods. They attribute this resistance to anxiety over job redundancy, a lack of understanding, and a lack of education on the positive impact of data analytics.
The report further reveals that part of the problem of data acceptance lies in 40% of respondents admitting that data strategy is not being driven by anyone in the organisation. With advanced analytics becoming mission-critical to all businesses, organisations must implement a clear data-driven strategy and ensure buy-in from all employees and stockholders.
Fundamental misunderstandings sit at the heart of the user-adoption dilemma. Business Intelligence (BI) developers have built powerful tools, but they weren’t necessarily appropriate for the mindset and skillset of the end-user. They relied too much on the user being an analyst at heart.
The idea then became that if the tools were comparatively easy to use, all knowledge workers could turn into analysts. But that wasn’t necessarily the case either. Analytics has to be translated into action. And BI tools have to work for the end-user in order for the tools to become an integrated and natural part of staff workflow.
Infused, advanced analytics: a powerful step towards a data-first culture
Infused analytics (also called embedded analytics) is vital to making data abundantly available in a format that suits the needs of the user. It puts actionable intelligence from analysed data into every workflow, process, business application, and even internally developed products.
This is the power of Sisense. With the Sisense platform, users enjoy fully customised experiences, driven by APIs that deliver the right information, at the right time and place, and in a way that makes sense to the user. This speeds up time to action, simplifies decision-making, and increases productivity. Because infused analytics sits within the existing technology stack a team already uses, they don’t have to learn a new tool or switch between platforms in order to gain insights.
For organisations that desire to create a data-first culture, it’s imperative to take the user experience seriously. A global study from Exasol, the analytics database, found that 65% of data teams have experienced employee resistance to adopting data-driven methods. The two main reasons for the resistance was a lack of understanding of the organisation’s data strategy and a lack of education about the positive impact data brings. This confusion is having a detrimental effect, curbing data culture transformation as a whole.
Organisations who are starting their engagement with analytics need to make the data consumable and “bite-sized”. They must enable the process, so there is a limited gap between insight to action. In other words, take the relevant data to the person contextualised and in the workflow they want to use.
To the business world, this is relatively new. But modern-day already sees people, albeit rather unknowingly, gleaning insights from data in their daily lives in ways that benefit them. Smartwatches, for example, leverage data to let people know when it’s time to stand up and walk around to meet personal step goals.
Popular apps and products have made the process of extracting value from data completely seamless, and in many cases, invisible. The data is so easy to consume because it’s right there and in the right context when it’s needed.
The takeaway? Users will adopt analytics when it works for them. That is, when it’s easy to access, non-intrusive, clear, direct, and provides the relevant insights that connect to their needs.
Advanced but accessible BI: engagement on their terms
Despite the numerous benefits of using data-driven insights for business decision-making, the simple fact of the matter is that not everyone is interested in becoming a data analyst. This is especially true today in the post-pandemic business landscape where many teams are already understaffed and feeling burnt out.
Knowledge workers would love to take action and make more decisions based on data, but not at the expense of their time. So continuous training to learn additional skills outside of their jobs just isn’t a solution.
To that end, BI tools must be user-friendly. And for a tool to be considered user-friendly, it has to shield the end-user from the complexities of the data. For example, business people think in business terminology. They think of opportunities, customers, pipelines, and revenue. So that’s how they need to be able to interact with data – on their terms and in a way that makes sense to them.
They don’t need to concern themselves with the complexities that underpin it all. Instead, they need the flexibility to ask questions in a natural way as opposed to a technical way. An advanced analytics tool like Sisense that provides the power to build custom-reporting dashboards offers the best of both worlds.
These dashboards can be tailored to the business needs and fit the questions that a variety of users may have. The visual dashboards also provide an at-a-glance summary of the data, which is perfect for keeping data easily digestible.
Making advanced analytics accessible brings an organisation one step closer to solving the user-adoption dilemma. And it helps create an engaged culture where end-users experience the value of custom dashboards for decision making. Dashboards can show users what they want to see, when they want to see it, and in a format that’s easy to understand.
Put simply, advanced analytics is one of the most powerful tools for business. There’s a treasure trove of information available to any company that’s willing to unlock it. That’s information that can provide a clear path to growth and profitability.
To dive deeper into advanced analytics and its benefit to business, download the How to Boost Your Business with Advanced Analytics ebook by Forecast here.
This is a contributed content