Now more than ever, our world is being driven by data and analytics, leading to the rise of a data-driven economy. Gartner predicts, “By 2022, 90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency.” Indeed growing a corporation’s data and analytics competency is how modern businesses are finding success with digital transformation.

What Is Big Data?

 Big Data is a term describing all the many sources of data that a corporation, organization or business may have access to. Data can be gathered internally, such as recording sales and financial data, social media sentiment, online interactions, and from research and development. External data also can be accessed or purchased to give a more complete picture to inform your decisionmaking. Data by itself isn’t an asset until you have a solid plan and strategy that lines up with your business goals. A strategy defines (1) who is working on your strategy and will be working with the data, (2) what processes and decision making you will use, and  (3) the technology to make actionable insights possible. The following are elements to consider as you develop a robust data and analytics strategy that will give you a road map long into the future.

Business Goals

Begin with the end in mind. Determine first what your business goals are and what questions you need to answer to reach those goals. Do you need a way to make innovation faster, comply with regulations, decrease costs, connect more authentically customers or identify new sales opportunities? Look at the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you are using now throughout the organization to inform your discussions. These important conversations will help you get laser-focused on what data you will be able to gather to give you the business intelligence you need to move ahead.

Data Sources

Data can be structured or unstructured and come from both internal and external sources. You need to know where the data comes from, how it is gathered and what regulations you will need to abide by to keep it private and secure. An effective data governance policy will ensure the integrity of data and make sure it is not mishandled.

Data Storage and Infrastructure

Large quantities of data presents challenges for storing and analysis. What technology infrastructure will you need to store and process the data so you can gather the insights you need? Many companies use the cloud as a cost-effective and secure way to store data. Raw data can be stored in a data lake until is ready to be processed or accessed by a data scientist. Data warehouses, on the other hand, are set up to process data so it can be used for advanced analysis so it can act as a “single source of truth” to guide decision making. Some companies may choose one or the other, or even both! Data warehouse cloud solutions include Google BigQuery, Microsoft Azure, Snowflake, and Amazon RedShift. Cloud solutions for data lakes include Data Bricks, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform. Microsoft Azure and Snowflake.

Insights and Dashboards

Once you have your data set up, the next step is turning the data into insights. Determine what dashboards will you need and who in the organization will be using them to make decisions. Having the right level of detail for each audience who will be using these dashboards is important. At this level, you can spot efficiencies in the supply chain, leverage advertising and sales information, and better understand your customers and what they are wanting or don’t even know that they need yet. As your analytics game advances you’ll grow from not only understanding what is happening and why but also making better predictions for the future.

People and Process

As you move through this strategy process, you will need to take special care toward incorporating data-based decision making throughout your organization. You may need to hire employees with new skills or outsource to a specialized team on site or offshore. As your plan evolves, you may need to plan for training and incentives for employees to learn how to effectively and efficiently use these insights and to adopt new internal processes and operations. Be sure your plan includes a budget and considers what competing projects might affect the timeline for getting started.

Business Intelligence for the Modern Age

Harnessing and convertingdata into actionable business intelligence you can use to transform your business requires special expertise. But digital transformation is all but impossible without it. We live and breathe data, and can help you create a data and analytics strategy to propel your organization forward. Contact us to start a conversation today.