Developing an Effective Analytics Strategy: A Roadmap for Success


Paul Derstine

Date Published:
April 7, 2017

Analytics is a disruptive technology and many organizations fail the first time they attempt a major analytics initiative. Extracting value from data to drive intelligent business decisions requires a cultural shift within a business to institutionalize analytics-based decision management. Elder Research has found that having an “analytics culture” is one of the strongest indicators of future analytics success and developing an effective analytics strategy is an active process that plays a key role in building a successful, data-driven culture. Using analytics to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage and generate significant return on analytics investment begins with a well-conceived analytics strategy.

According to Harvard Business Review “Companies can get stuck trying to analyze all that’s possible and all that they could do through analytics, when they should be taking that next step of recognizing what’s important and what they should be doing — for their customers, stakeholders, and employees. Discovering real business opportunities and achieving desired outcomes can be elusive.”

Breaking down business silos and navigating organizational changes throughout the ana­lytics life cycle can be difficult. Developing a successful strategy requires a thorough understanding of tech­nological and organizational capabilities, limitations, and opportunities and then charting a path toward building a common vision for analytics throughout the organization.

The analytics strategy should assess the unique business challenges for an organization, matching those challenges with relevant data and resources, and establishing processes that grow capabilities and institutionalize analytics to ensure key decision makers have access to actionable results. Making the results accessible to business decision makers is vital for adoption, so as a part of the strategy we work with our clients to build visualization and deployment solutions tailored for their production environment.

Before developing an analytics strategy an organization should assess their current capabilities and aspirational goals for analytics in the following areas:

  • Analytics – Measure the sophistication and rigor of existing analytics approaches.
  • Leadership – An executive or senior manager should be a champion of analytics work.
  • Culture – Successful an­alytics organizations have a culture that values finding what works regardless of who gets the credit, and seeks improvement through continual experimentation and inquiry.
  • Process – Building analytics processes is essential for enforcing analytics culture and allowing technical successes to be repeated over time.
  • People – Every analytics team needs access to expertise in IT infrastruc­ture, data storage, data transformation, statistics, and data visu­alization.
  • Infrastructure – A successful organization supports an infrastructure that enables non-technical users to access and apply complex analytic results to their work.

The results of this Analytics Assessment informs the Analytics Strategy, enabling an organization to develop a roadmap to prioritize data-centric business goals. By ranking each opportunity based on cost (both direct and indirect), return on investment, and actionability an organization can identify low-cost, high-return actions.

We recommend starting with an analytic prototype to demonstrate whether predictive analytic techniques can be used to answer an important business question and/or improve a current modeling effort with limited capital and resource investment. A successful analytics prototype project demonstrates how analytics can be applied to more complex business problems and will help build analytic momentum.

Request a consultation to discuss how Elder Research can help your organization build an effective analytics strategy.