The Art of the Possible – How to get the most out of Data Analytics

The Art of the Possible – How to get the most out of Data Analytics

Posted on June 29, 2015 by TheStorageChap in Big Data and Analytics, Federation, The Art of the Possible

Big data can bring big business benefits, but analysts and scientists working with this volume of information need to go about it in a different way than they did before. While traditional transactional processes will still be required, increasingly data exploration and experimentation at scale is needed to uncover the hidden data beneath Big Data’s surface. Organisations know how valuable analytics could be, but many simply don’t know where to start, the art of the possible.

This blog post looks at one approach – the formation of a data lab – and suggests key considerations to ensure that the output from such a team brings real value to the wider business.

According to IDC, the worldwide business analytics market is expected to grow to around $59.2 billion in 2018 with the rise of big data. And new, more nimble, real-time analytics tools are entering the market to meet this growth. However, analysts and scientists working with this volume of information need to take a different approach to before and, as I mentioned in my previous post,  often don’t know where to start. This is because much of the value that is hidden within big data is beneath its surface, so data analytics needs to dig deeper.

Despite acknowledging the importance of big data, many organisations still aren’t sure where to begin. We recently found that 49% of businesses realise they can get more valuable insights from information and data, but simply don’t know how. And this issue certainly rings true when I’m talking to customers and prospects. Unlike traditional analytics, which is very transactional in focus – i.e. find me the answer to xx question – a significant focus for big data is exploration and experimentation at scale. Data scientists are tasked with exploring the ‘ the art of possible ’.

To succeed, it requires a different approach to the team’s structure and analytics processes. One way to do this is to form a data lab – the ‘Impossible Missions Force’. Rather like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, this team has to be flexible and remain one step ahead.  So, you need to equip them with the mandates and investment of leadership and then give them the freedom to explore and investigate.

Here are some key considerations that you can embrace in this new data lab environment:

  1. Bring your board’s concerns to the brainstorm – You need to give your “Impossible Missions Force” some missions. Make sure you get the board’s mandates and concerns and bring them to the data lab brainstorm so that at least some of the missions the data lab tackles are ones that are linked to the strategic challenges the business is facing.
  2. Prioritise business critical issues – Once you have a list of missions, you need to agree the most important ones to investigate. Once the data lab is up and moving, they could easily get mired in operational projects. They need the freedom and the time to focus on the bigger picture, strategic issues as well.
  3. Move on from isolated problem solving – The team needs to shift from simply problem solving certain issues to conducting wider data experimentation and discovery. Increasingly, data scientists need to explore, question and analyse the data in different ways to see what nuggets of information can be unlocked. To this end they need a certain portion of free time to identify and address independent projects from the ones allocated by the business.
  4. Deliver insights back to the Board – Summarising key insights and recommendations in a digestible way to the Board will help solve the business’ most pertinent issues, and show immediate return on the investment in the data lab. Planning ahead as a team and thinking of the best way to do this will yield the most positive outcome – leadership acting on what you say.

Adopting this approach will steer your Mission Impossible data lab in the right direction. These scientists can discover and expose key insights to transform businesses for the future; they just need the right guidance to flourish.