STRIKING IT RICH WITH ANALYTICS

Is your company’s data working for you? The concept that data is the new currency has been flowing around the technology and business communities for several years, but few businesses are realizing the full potential of what analytics can do to help strike it rich. BY CARA BEDFORD

..DATA I S T H E N E W O I L With the sheer volume of change and rapid growth in analytics, companies across all industries should be looking to elevate their IT departments to better compete and stay tuned in. While analytics are not exclusively about technology, tech is what helps us gather the raw data needed for analysis.

However, with data collection disrupting the way we create wealth, it’s time to start looking beyond simple gathering of information and start drawing conclusions and finding trends that will help fuel innovation and positive changes in the way we conduct business. To do this, there are several key areas companies need to look at to build a successful IT team and create an analytics game plan capable of producing quality data.

• GOING BEYOND DATA CAPTURING

While data collection is growing across industries, this doesn’t always equate to a growing understanding of how to use that data to improve business and generate cash flow. Many companies jump on board with data collection the same way they do other disruptive technologies and trends; by incorporating it without having a plan on how to fully integrate it. Companies with stacks of data piling up and little to show for it except for digital storage fees, need to start investigating how data can enhance products, improve customer experience and even predict future costs and issues. For example, various manufacturing companies that rely heavily on machinery and equipment can better plan budgets for repair and replacement costs when they can predict the timeline of breakdowns for these critical assets. Focused data collection can make this and much more possible.

• • BUILDING AN I.T. TEAM FOR SUCCESS (OR BETTER YET A TECHNOLOGY TEAM)

Gaining value from analytics is also reliant on having an experienced team working for your company which can be difficult to get when computing has only recently gained the capabilities to conduct advanced data analytics. With the increase in the importance of analytics, many established IT professionals have been caught unaware by the shift. Having entered the field several years or decades ago, these experts were working well before advanced data analytics were even viable and now their skills are out of date. This has left them unprepared to deal with analytics which require more research and business skills than pure tech knowledge. Because of this, the most successful data scientists come from academic backgrounds where research is a much bigger focus than in traditional IT. To create a team capable of extracting value from analytics, companies should look to those from the academic world and seek out research training for current IT professionals struggling with this concept. The traditional methods of I.T. can only go so far in today’s technologically advanced world. It just changes so quickly. What is needed is a repositioning of mindset with looking at I.T. to manage a company’s technology needs as a whole, to help them be viable for the future. In the age of digital transformation, your IT department should actually be performing as your technology team with a wholistic approach and focus on emerging technologies.

• • USING A TECHNOLOGY TEAM TO TRANSFORM YOUR BUSINESS

When a business looks at their technology needs beyond fixing a computer or resetting a password, technology transformation can be achieved. By mindfully integrating technology, you can set your workers and your company up for long-term success in data utilization and more. This shakes up the old way of thinking about technology which, generally, saw anything new as a cost to the company. However, when you wait to integrate technology or forgo it completely, opportunity is the true cost of that decision. Companies who do this miss out on early-adapter innovations and often spend more money trying to get workers caught up to speed as newer and more complicated versions of technology are introduced. With a mindset change to transformative technology, we are not spending money, we are utilizing an incredible wealth-creating tool.

• • TURNING GARBAGE TO GOLD

With data playing an ever-increasing role in business and technology, “garbage in, garbage out” has become a popular refrain to dismiss “unimportant” or “bad” data. However, this junk data plays an important part in the information economy: it gives us a place to start. By analyzing the data you have, even if it’s not ideal, it gives a frame of reference for determining what is truly “garbage” and what isn’t. This helps us set quality benchmarks, determine better standards for data collection, and gives us a template for future data usage that will make collection more efficient. Treating “garbage” data as the potential asset that it is, gets us one step closer to resolving Data Quality issues, a major hurdle when employing analytics.

• • FACTORING IN KEY
PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPI)

Along with the broader concepts, the value of analytics can be more easily reaped when a mindful game plan is put into place. This means starting with a fully defined idea of what you want to measure. Though it sounds simple, many companies will start collecting data without defining what information they want to gain from it and set themselves up for being the keepers of a lot of data they don’t need. Potential KPI options should include maintenance workflow, backlog management, history analysis and all other relevant functional areas. Tracking a full range of KPIs can let a company know which sectors need maintenance and enable detailed reporting. Beginning the journey to better analytics now is a major step to staying viable and profitable in the future. Though physical property still holds great significance in many industries and individual companies, this will change as digital assets become even more prevalent. Having a game plan in place now will help generate new value and manage current assets. Perhaps most importantly, as a wide range of difficulties are seen on a global scale across industries, data leveraging is set to become the difference between sinking and continuing full steam ahead on the analytics engine.

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