Three steps to using your business data

By Riaan Bekker, Force Solutions Manager, thryve

Data analytics are vital for a modern organisation. According to the Deloitte Analytics Advantage surveys, two-thirds of businesses regard analytics as strategically important. 62% say their analytics are tied to strategy, and 16% see it as their greatest benefit when launching key initiatives.

But these statistics only underpin the obvious: clear information leads to clear decision making. Analytics doesn’t exist to replace leaders and their gut instincts. Ultimately a person, not a machine, knows which actions are their best choices. But gut instinct isn’t an alternative to being informed. They go hand-in-hand.

So how can companies start using analytics? They already possess data that will help them with this effort: sales data, customer feedback and operational metrics are examples of what information can be tapped to create new insights. To tap that potential, I propose three steps to take:

  1. Know what you want to know

What is the purpose of your business and which factors inside it speak directly to its success? This is the question you should ask yourself before embarking on an analytics project. There is simply so much potential you can investigate in your data that it is crucial to start with a clear view of what you want to achieve. You might be looking for more insight, or you are hoping to tackle a specific issue.

Ask the straightforward questions: what factors impact your bottom line, and what do you know about those factors? Do you have data around those activities? There will be key performance indicators that speak to these questions – these are often where you want to focus your queries. It is helpful to consult with an analytics development partner to explore the best practices as well as the shortest routes to get answers with modern analytics.

  1. Select analytics services suited to your needs

A primary reason why many analytics projects fail is that they take on a ‘technology will solve it’ attitude. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “technology isn’t a silver bullet”, which applies to analytics as well. But analytics is even more confounding because it has many applications, inputs and outcomes. So every choice matters, including the analytics platform you want to use.

There are many different choices – at thryve, we support Salesforce Einstein Analytics, Tableau, and Microsoft PowerBI. While they share many features, each also offers essential differences. Einstein Analytics is fantastic for working with customer data, while Tableau is widely favoured in financial circles, and PowerBI is a good fit for any company with a Microsoft estate. Each also has features that work well for a variety of use cases and business sectors. Selecting the right one can save you a lot of money and aggravation, so don’t just go for the first solution you encounter. Talk to a company such as thryve that supports different analytics platforms to find the best fit(s).

  1. Scale as you need it

You’ll notice I ended my previous point with a suggested plural. You don’t need to use only one analytics platform – and you can do this without creating more complexity in your organisation. A modern software platform can be deployed and integrated into a business environment without a lot of fuss. It can start small and scale up or down as needed. Many of thryve’s successful projects start as minor proofs or concepts or trials, then quickly prove their value. Since such platforms often operate on OPEX, not CAPEX, payments, you have full control with no long-term investment risks.

This means you can use different analytics platforms, suited to different needs. Your salespeople can look at customer data using Salesforce Einstein Analytics, while the CFO and their team rely on Tableau to give them insights. Analytics platforms can connect to different data sources and pool that information for their own needs, without removing that data from its original home. You can apply analytics at a per-project level or focus it on specific departments – even people. Different dashboards and reporting templates can be set for different user profiles. If the analytics have run their course, you can just shut it down.

Once you have decided on these three questions, you can consider the practical needs of analytics, such as sorting out your data. But the above answers will determine your directions and priorities. They also give clarity to your analytics solution partner, who must bring their business and product knowledge to the table in an honest and transparent way. Soon enough, you’ll be harvesting insights that let you know your business better and plan your next move.