In Data We Trust

Sometimes, organizations look at analytics companies like as if we were snake oil salesmen. The fault, I think is mostly ours. We position analytics as this all powerful elixir that can obliterate business challenges of all types and intensity.

More than a decade of endeavouring to solve business problems with analytics has brought with it some interesting experiences. Project experiences range from the sublime to a massive grind. Some are open and shut, others are long and winding, even more resemble a dog chasing its tail, while others are like a wild goose chase.

Among all these, the most heart breaking are the ones where the client wants to solve the problem but doesn’t have the data around it. As analytics practitioners, it’s most frustrating when the technique and the framework exist but the raw material doesn’t.

Frustrating situation for Analytics service providersOver the years, I have been part of efforts to segment clients in a variety of ways, but the most compelling groups are the data haves and have-nots. This fundamental distinction eventually rears its head in a variety of ways, sometimes with devastating effect. Massive business impact and savings are there for the taking, only if the data exists. Very often, a change of guard in the executive suite will bring an intense amount of scrutiny on the business, especially if the change has been effected as a result of turbulence in business performance. In times like these, business managers are asked a million questions by their new superiors, all of which a solid data and BI infrastructure would ensure smooth sailing.

When business processes are set up, no matter which ones, it will always pay back handsomely if there is provisioning to capture the underlying data. This should be a cardinal rule to be blindly followed without question. There is no point in thinking through what possible use this data could be of. Capturing data is always a classic case of the application following the solution. As an analogy, I can think of the internet. When the US Department of Defense thought of establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency’s ARPA Net, I’m sure they, in their wildest dreams would not have thought that it would turn out to be the proverbial genie in the bottle. Investments in data infrastructure almost always tend to tread a similar path. Somewhere in the future, comes a severe challenge for which data that was started to be collected long before, becomes an integral part of the response.

Similarly, ambitious initiatives and projects should always have an additional data layer as part of the program. This is because both success and failure have very profound stories to tell and data about them should be deposited into the organization’s DNA. Again, when the time comes, the lessons would a revelation for people who are scrambling to get their arms around vexing issues.

Fortunately, the exponentially shrinking cost of storage and need for space have made the ability to capture more and more data almost child’s play. Moreover, adhering to intensifying regulation and transitioning knowledge and know-how across the organization is a breeze. Most importantly however, the culture of data has a very deep impact on the employee base. Everyone who speaks the language of data has no time or patience over empty claims and needless debate. The usual refrain to any argument becomes “bring the data”.

Complex business questions

Happily enough, there is a sure-shot way to deal with these questions, if and only if, the organization has made adequate data investments. The presence of data will lend to keen information, followed by specific, actionable insights to the problem.

Staying on this thought, an interesting experience comes to mind. A Global Bank, outsourced the bulk of their support operations to India, but were facing the issue to employees very quickly becoming fatigued with the work. As anybody else, they were perplexed because they had staffed these processes with CAs, CA intermediates and Post Graduates in Masters. Such a carefully though through matching of the job description with its ideal qualification was backfiring badly. The answer, always lies in the data. In this case, when the profiles of the hired candidates was matched with their performance and retention in the organization, it was found that it was in fact, the Science Graduates who did exceedingly well in these F&A back-office jobs because of the novelty and the associated learning that was associated with it. The CAs felt underwhelmed and for the Commerce Graduates, it seemed like more of the same thing.

Of course, implementation is where the rubber meets the road. Rigorous follow through and nuanced implementation with the required persistence and perseverance almost always leads to enormous business impact.

BRIDGEi2i is one such “Getafix, the druid” organization which can conjure up magical solutions from the data cauldron. We usually line up some impressive heavy hitters to lock horns with any business problem. The company has among its ranks, the very best in the business. All we need is data, everything else will be taken care of.

The author is a Consulting Services Delivery Leader at BRIDGEi2i A company on a mission to unleash the power of analytics and transform the lives of enterprises and individuals alike. We believe that the solutions to almost all intractable problems lies buried inside the data. The Managed Analytics Services group within BRIDGEi2i is firmly focused on going the distance with client organizations to make sure that the realization of business impact is a core imperative of every engagement.To know more visit www.bridgei2i.com

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of BRIDGEi2i.

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