So you’ve invested in data tech, now what?

Frank Kozurek, Director at Motion BI, outlines the key considerations businesses should make when laying the foundations of their data strategy.

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This is a contributed article by Frank Kozurek, Director at Motion BI.

 

Businesses are increasingly recognising that data has the ability to accelerate their organisation to support growth and improve productivity. Indeed, research from Wharton School, commissioned by Qlik, previously identified that data-driven companies are associated with 3-5% increase in enterprise value. As such, more and more businesses are keen to invest in the resources and tools that will allow them to get the best out of data.

While many organisations certainly recognise the value of data to their business there are often barriers to acquiring the thought leadership needed to see maximum ROI. These include limited executive team capital, challenging marketing conditions, and the desire to see the value of data and analytics before investing in senior leadership roles.

On top of this, one of the biggest challenges faced is in ensuring the organisation has ongoing value from the investment well into the future. Many businesses taking their first tentative steps towards becoming data-driven will focus on an initial use case and project. However, all too often while they master that one use case, they don’t look ahead and consider how they can build a strategy around technology to help bring value to other areas of the organisation in the long term.

So how do you get the best of both worlds – acquiring the right guidance to ensure continued value from the technology, but without the upfront investment and long-term commitment? Companies without the resource to hire their own CDO to lead them through this journey could consider embracing a ‘CDO-as-a-service’ model, providing them with the third-party consultancy that can guide and accelerate their use of data and analytics to ultimately achieve self-sufficiency. But even before this stage, there are some key considerations businesses should make when laying the foundations of their data strategy.

Think about the bigger picture

Business leaders ultimately don’t want to invest in a one-trick-pony, but a capability that will enable them to achieve their broader business ambitions. From the outset, it is important to reflect on the bigger picture: how can data and analytics improve productivity and innovation? How can data help us achieve our business goals?

Thinking about these questions will be critical to developing a strategy that will help companies best use their data to support their business objectives and see a greater ROI. This will, in turn, allow them to identify the best tools to support the organisation’s goals and outline a roadmap for how they can be successfully rolled out. This is the first crucial step toward becoming a data led business.

Make data part of the decision-making process

With a strategy in place, the goal should be to make data part of a business’s everyday decision-making process. Data technologies alone will not solve business problems, they are enablers that will deliver business value, if and only if, they are used correctly in the context of the business and its people. It’s important to consider what roles, responsibilities and interactions are required for the workforce to effectively leverage insights, and to ensure that these insights correctly evolve over time in line with the changing demands of the business.

The quicker and more confident a business is with data insights, the greater ROI they will generate from their data tools. In order to get to a point where every employee is using insights to inform their business decisions, it’s important to ensure that data is accessible, relevant and importantly, easy to consume. Data platforms have the capability to convert data from raw to ready for analytics consumption, breaking down information barriers and reducing the complexities inherent in legacy data environments. This means employees can spend less time preparing data for use and more time discovering insights.

An award-winning example of this at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), where the hospital has created a cutting-edge Analytic Command Centre, used to inform decisions by frontline healthcare staff. Based on data analytics platform, Qlik Sense, the Command Centre is a physical analytics hub in the hospital, where five large touchscreen displays along the wall present different aspects of the emergency care journey. The screens offer insights into the ambulances on their way to the hospital and developments in the Emergency Department, which help staff prepare for the arrival of patients by assessing their needs and hospital resources. It has had a significant impact on the management of the Emergency Department – the number of patients triaged within 15 minutes has grown by 30 per cent. Following the success of the data strategy at UHMBT, seven trusts in London have also now adopted the command centre model to help with the flow of patients and ensure that data is a natural part of decision making.

Build your employees skillsets

To get the most out of data technologies, you have put people at the heart of your strategy. Employees must be confident in reading, understanding, questioning and making decisions using data. However, just 17 per cent of the UK population are data literate, according to a recent report from Qlik and Accenture on The Human Impact of Data Literacy, with 46 per cent of employees frequently deferring to making decisions based on gut feeling over data-driven insight.

Organisations must recognise that investing in data literacy skills is critical to improving their ROI on data tools. Indeed, the Data Literacy Index revealed that it can improve companies’ enterprise value by as much as 5 per cent. Furthermore, data literacy training needn’t be a costly endeavour: the Data Literacy Project offers a number of free resources and e-learning courses organisations can use to help their workforce understand the value data and develop their skillset.

Becoming a data-driven business

Data has the ability to provide a new layer of insight to businesses that can augment the experience and knowledge of its employees. Used effectively, it can have a huge impact on business outcomes. Investing in the right data technology is an important step in becoming data-led, however, longer term success cannot be achieved without having the right strategy in place.

Thinking about a data strategy that looks at the bigger picture – from how it will deliver against wider business goals, to what roles, responsibilities and interactions are required for its workforce to effectively leverage insights – will be critical to getting greater ROI from investments in data technologies.

Frank Kozurek is Director at Motion BI and is the former head of business intelligence at National Express. He has worked in data roles for more than 15 years and is an expert in utilising data to its full capability.