Implementing an insight-generating system or data-driven strategy for your business is viewed as a large, complex project on par with rolling out a Database management system or ERP system. Since prior systems do not run mission critical processes as the latter for the company, they are often delayed due to other priorities.
However, if we go by the recent developments, it is hard to ignore the progress that Big Data and Artificial Intelligence has made. Not only these technologies are making life easier, but their case studies of adding enormous value to the organisations are also all around us. Research shows that companies with data-driven strategy achieved 6% better profits and 8% better productivity over their not-so-nerdy competitors. So despite the obvious benefits, why do most companies think of data analytics as an optional process? Here are some key challenges:
Get your priority straight
If you are a product manager, you are focussed on improving features of products which will appeal to your customers. If you are a marketing director, you would like to communicate right messages to your customers. Much data is generated through these processes, but that in itself is worthless. Chances are you are already stretched and have so many other priorities, that looking at data sits right at the bottom
According to MIT Sloan’s report about Analytics – 50% of the companies are still analytically challenged despite high optimism towards the value driven by analytics.
Barriers to Adoption
It takes much hard work to get the required information out of the data. Many companies especially small to midsize firms place emphasis on the price of analytics, like the cost of infrastructure, software pipelines and hiring specific resources. Too often, they stay away from ‘pricey analytics projects’, or that is what they perceive.
According to a survey by IDG Enterprise, the top reasons to companies’ inability to implement data analytics projects are (a.) Lack of Skilled resources, (b.) Limited Budget and (c.) Legacy issues which make implementation difficult on current setups
Can nature be blamed?
Data Analytics is an aggregated science. It finds recurring patterns with a bird’s eye view, and humans are not good at visualising complex patterns. We would rather rely on our selective judgement than indulging in an overly cryptic, incrementally better and effort consuming system.
Check out this answer about why data-driven decision making is involved, by Ricardo Vladimiro, Game Analytics and Data Science Lead @ Miniclip
However, the value is apparent
As a result, data takes a backstage for most companies, and decision making becomes a pure art rather than science. It is true that the process of doing analytics is a tedious and costly affair, to begin with. However, surveys have shown that making data-driven decisions can generate substantial value for the companies which is similar to primary functions of the organisations. Even better is the ROI which scales very well and you do not need to invest in data like you constantly have to with other functions.
According to this report by McKinsey, data and analytics has driven 60%+ increase in net profit margins and 0.5-1% growth in annual productivity for US Retail. Similar observations were made in EU as well.
Debunking the myth of gut-based decision making
Decision making is nothing but forecasting of events. As in charge of delivering success to your company, you think and decide – What would appeal to your customers? What would drive them crazy? What will give you the best return on costs yet hitting the set targets? I decided to write this article because I think it will drive certain behaviour in the readers. I forecasted.
So now that we have established what decision making is, I want to quote a super book on the super subject called ‘Superforecasting’. The initial parts of the book are mostly about establishing the fact that being good at forecasting is not something that we are born with; it is a skill learned through a painstaking process of gathering information, analysing it and finding something useful (sounds familiar?). In an example they quote that:
“A researcher gathered a big group of experts – academics, pundits, and the like – to make thousands of predictions about the economy, stocks, elections, wars and the other issue of the day. Time passed, and when the researcher checked the accuracy of the predictions, he found that the average expert did about as well as random guessing.”
To achieve the optimal, balance is required where the experience based decisions can be backed by insights from the data. According to this slightly old PwC survey:
” Highly data-driven companies are three times more likely to report significant improvement in making big decisions.“
So how can analytics add intelligence to your decision making? (a.) It can tell you where are you losing money and, (b.) It can find out alternate (often hidden) revenue streams for your business. We will cover both of them in Part 2.
It’s a beautiful Monday morning in Singapore with people bustling in buses and MRT stations making their way to work. Somewhere in Bugis, the owner of a Sago shop (a F&B outlet specializing in a delicious Chinese desert) looks at her last week’s business reports and wonders, “I wish I had the power to know my customers’ liking even before they ordered…”. At the same moment, on the other side of the town, a mango seller is loading up his truck hoping to find the right customers where he could get more value for his specially imported mangoes.
As the owner of the Sago shop opens her shop’s Facebook page the mango seller is checking out the orders received for the day. Although the number of likes have gone up in the FB page, she is not aware how a sentiment analysis could be done on the people who have liked the page. Also, if only she knew that her customers are already talking about the delicious mango sago they had last night over social media, she could come out with an offer on the particular to attract more footfall.
Similarly, the mango seller takes note of the fruit shop and juice shop outlets that have ordered. He is worried about the excess stock which he might have to undersell. There is no one to suggest him that he should consider the Sago shop as a premium customer and deliver an exclusive batch of mangoes to increase his value proposition. The solution to these problems might not be of data but, analyzing the already available information and finding the value in it.
Ladies & gentlemen, the above story is based on true incidents happened over 3 years. Now, both the characters of the story are involved in a strong business relationship and till date serve the best Mango Sago in town. Such common business issues have made us wonder whether holding information and not seeing a pattern in it to improve business is innocence or sheer negligence.
As the amount of data from the Global IP traffic branches out to exabytes and zettabytes, so is their value. Companies gain an edge over their competitors solely due to data sourcing and cleaning. Companies employing analysts to make sense of their data are moving ahead aggressively. Soon, there will be a world where data would be the universal currency and businesses would transact with their knowledge stored as data.
At this juncture, Tuple Technologies would love to share the opinions of people from a variety of industries and markets on what they believe is the value for making sense of the so called Big Data. So, moving forward, we will interact with statisticians, data scientists and analytics teams of various multi national organisations. This will be purely to understand the supply side, i.e. the analysts, on how they see this industry’s growth and how each market is responding to this game changing business segment.
Alternatively, we shall discuss with C-level executives of a plethora of industries to identify what is that they are looking from the information collected on their customers, how they are leveraging that information to gain an upper hand over their competition. We hope that the blog will bring out adrenaline pumping, mind boggling revelations.