Data, analytics, and the value of being data-led
There can be no overstating it. There’s tremendous value in data. By properly analyzing data, a business can use insights gained to improve customer experience, employee experience, and ultimately, the bottom line. But how do you measure how effectively you’re translating data? How do you show the value of analytics?
On nearly every GDS Group event or business leader roundtable I moderate, regardless of topic or industry, there’s one common observation that strikes me. We could be discussing Generative AI or cloud adoption trends; we could be amongst finance executives or IT leaders, and I’ll hear a singular goal emerge, organizations are striving to be more data-led.
Businesses large and small are investing in analytics to pull insights from their data, so they can craft more informed strategies and make wiser decisions. But when it comes to quantifying the impact of data-driven strategies, things get a little murky. What’s the true value this emphasis on data and analytics has brought us?
ROI of Data & Analytics
We gave the executives attending our recent GDS Data & Analytics Summit the unique opportunity to shape the topics for a panel session featuring four esteemed data experts. Weighing in through an interactive poll during the Summit, these attendees told us the topic they most wanted to hear the panelists’ insights on. Capturing 74% of the vote: “the ROI of data and analytics.” In this blog, we’ll tell you what the experts shared.
Summit attendees resoundingly voted to hear insight around the ROI of data & analytics
1: Cultivate Data Culture
First, and underlying all the insight from the four panelists, is culture. The organization needs to be more than just data-aware, but data-savvy, ready to embrace oncoming changes. And that can only happen when technology leaders are working in step with the board or executive leaders, especially as Generative AI moves more and more into the spotlight.
“There’s radical change for everybody in this predictive world and AI world,” stated Lee Bogner, Global eCommerce Chief Enterprise Architect at Mars. He says collaboration and communication are crucial. “The tech teams with the business teams, in its simplest forms. But from a compass view: from the top, down to the very low level.”
“Changing the culture—it’s not easy,” acknowledged Prasad Gunda, AVP of Data Engineering, Business Intelligence and Advanced Analytics at Travelers. But he says the shift happens once technologists truly understand business goals and problems. “What is the problem at hand and see where and how data analytics can help. That may actually shift the conversation.”
And once analytics insights are shared, value is reinforced when teams across the business can access the information (with proper data governance in place, of course). But only the most meaningful data.
“As part of the data-driven culture,” said Bogner, “one of the principles would be reusability and sharing that knowledge and sharing that data. But the velocity of data coming in is so huge that we have to take conscious efforts to control the flow.”
The panel of data experts share insights on the value of analytics with technology leaders and moderator Alex Wood.
2: Keep Telling Data Stories
Secondly, panelists advised our audience of data and IT leaders that proving the value of data analytics must be an ongoing focus. Jeffrey Klebanoff, former Managing Director of Finance Transformation at Moody’s, said to keep the board invested, tell stories. Don’t data dump.
“I think a lot of time people bring so much data to the table and the business is just, ‘I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me,’” said Klebanoff. Instead, he suggests, “find that common understanding of their goals and then tie the data you have to those goals to tell that story. That’s where I’ve had a lot of big wins.”
“We can certainly connect the data and see how it actually creates the ROI and a tangible value,” said Gunda from Travelers. Calculating how much time a customer call takes, for instance, when there’s missing data, and tying that to revenue.
Panelist Neeraj Arora, Director of BI & Data Analytics at Ciena, reinforced this advice, adding that it’s especially important to let the data speak when it tells a story the business may not want to hear. “The things we’re focusing on may not be yielding the outcome we want.” Arora says that would be a pivotal time for the business to make data-informed decisions and be willing to change course as the data predicts. There’s no denying the value of saving time.
3: Show How Data Turns into an Asset
A third component to identifying the ROI of the analytics work you’ve done is to show executive leaders how data has become an asset. It’s important to show how today’s success can be tied to yesterday’s data-driven insight.
Think of data as “the building block,” said Bogner from Mars. “As data becomes information, it becomes a little more valuable because it can help you drive insights, and you can validate whether it’s useful information. And then once it passes that test, it becomes knowledge, and knowledge is truly an organizational asset.”
Arora from Ciena agrees, “the foundation was built by leveraging the data in the past. So today, we are into a better spot because of leveraging the data the way we did.”
Three key expert insights for business leaders to keep in mind in order to showcase the value of all that analytics work: cultivating data culture built around tech and business harmony, the ongoing sharing of data stories, and the continuous conversation of how yesterday’s data-led strategy became today’s business success.
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