It’s no secret that analytics confers a significant competitive advantage on companies that successfully implement BI platforms and drive key decision making with data. Yet, many organizations struggle in this endeavor. So, why aren’t more analytics and BI implementations delivering results?
No one believes that you can simply install analytics and BI software and magic will occur. It is understood that a successful implementation requires two other ingredients: people (end users) and processes (collaboration). The magic only happens when you have alignment on all three elements—the right people, the right processes, and the right tools.
But what if you knew you had the best and brightest on your staff? And what if they were hungry to solve the organization’s most pressing challenges with data? What if the reason the BI implementation was failing was not the users or their willingness to work together, but that they were using the wrong analytics platform? What if the solution chosen as the centerpiece of an analytics strategy was not fit for duty?
Watch for the Signs
Consider the following scenario: You finally chose the analytics platform that you hoped would propel your organization to success. At first, everything seemed fine. You went through dozens of stakeholder reviews and witnessed countless vendor demos. You spoke to your executive team, IT leaders, and line-of-business managers. You eliminated the platforms that seemed too complicated for the task and the ones that didn’t quite have the horsepower for your enterprise needs. Plus, the CEO loved the attractive visualizations and report templates included out-of-the-box.
But now you are halfway through the implementation, and you are starting to see the signs that things are not going entirely to plan. You have the feeling that nothing has really changed in the way people go about their work and that the business has not made any significant progress. You look around and begin to feel that the BI application you selected may not have been the best choice. The following are four signs that you may have chosen the wrong platform:
The content tells you answers everyone already knows. Everybody loves pie charts. And column charts. And scatter plots. Any visualization is fantastic. However, visualizations are simply representations of data, and they often tell you what you already know. For example, say you have a pie chart on a dashboard that shows your top 10 customers by geography. It will wow you at first, but the novelty wears thin when you realize you already knew your top accounts. What you’d like to do is ask the next questions? What’s the year-over-year change in customers? Why am I losing them or keeping them? Can I take my highest performing salespeople and see why they are successful compared to the unsuccessful ones? If your platform gives you attractive charts, but only offers a modicum of analytic depth, you’ll be left hungry for more.
People are not using it. Imagine that an analyst has a beautiful chart based on data from your accounting system showing product sales over the last three trailing quarters. But the chart doesn’t tell her about profitability in the next 3 months, or the reasons for profitability. It only gives her the obvious answers.
So, she reviews a separate profit and loss report (usually a grid of figures), cuts and pastes the data into Excel, applies a forecast algorithm, and then plops that into a PowerPoint to share with the VP of sales. Worse yet, she extracts it out of the accounting tool as raw data because the data in the BI platform was both stale and slightly incorrect. In short, she uses anything other than your company’s expensive analytics tool to produce the real insights. If your employees are not using the platform to make decisions, it risks becoming shelfware.