Alternative Text Sophie Nadin | 19 November 2021 |

Data, insights and company growth: You need the right building blocks

At our recent Business Analytics Forum, we heard about the potential for AI, the capabilities of Snowflake and IBM Planning Analytics with Watson, and the possibilities for retail performance management. It was an exciting afternoon discussing everything analytics with some of the best in the business. But across all our speakers, one thing was abundantly clear. You can’t get anywhere without the right building blocks in place. Here are four key insights we learnt from the day and a little about our Analytics Health Check.

Define what you’re trying to achieve

Yes, AI is very cool and machine learning opens up many potential new doors. But what are you trying to achieve? This was a key point made by Sherin Matthew.

“Using AI in itself isn’t a strategy, it’s an approach that helps you achieve your desired outcome. Take the example of Netflix using AI in its recommendations function.

It’s a great tool and it’s a really nice use of AI. But it was the need to help the user quickly and easily find new content across the platform that was the desired outcome. AI was just the facilitator.

Whatever the technology out there, always look closely at your business, get under the skin of the day-to-day, get to know your customer and define strategic objectives. Only then will the right technology for your outcomes present itself.


Question how you’re going to measure success

According to Bernie Smith, “KPIs are a treasure map as they tell you where to dig”. Only once you understand your objectives can you define your KPIs, targets and incentives. Bernie’s process of how to do this involves KPI trees – that allow an organisation’s objectives to be broken down into more granular outcomes and relevant KPIs or metrics to track those outcomes.

This visual process helps you to:

  • Sum up a complex situation with just a few indicators
  • Help build agreement through collaborative sessions across your organisation
  • Quickly align KPIs to any changes in strategy
  • Understand how measures interact


With defined objectives and measurable KPIs comes the foundation for business success.


Understand what your data looks like

What are you working with when it comes to data?

The quality of your data and how you’re using it is fundamental. According to Sherin, “you can’t build AI on bad data”. So, what do we mean by “good data”? It’s more about how you work with it, access it and gleam insights from it.

Question how quickly your data is available – is this days or hours? How is your data structured? Can you cope with growing variety and volume? And how quickly can you derive new insights from the data? Can projects now be delivered in weeks not months? These are all big questions you need to answer and evaluate before you can…


Choose the right technology

Which leads us onto choosing the right technology to make the most out of your data. We’ve written enough on our blog about Excel for you to know its limitations when it comes to planning. It can only get you so far.

Finding the right tools, systems and technology is key. And crucial to this process is investing in technology that works with your business rather than against it. IBM Planning Analytics with Watson for example, offers integrated planning across your organisation. This can bring strategy alignment, collaborative business decision making and better results. It also keeps things simple with an Excel integration. Snowflake on the other hand provides a complete SQL database, built-in security and live data-sharing in the cloud.

The right choice of technology depends on an understanding of the needs of your organisation and your people.


Helping you to make the right data decisions and improve company performance

Simon Harrison from DeeperThanBlue also took to the stage at BAF to run through our Analytics Health Check, designed to get your fundamentals in place and re-align your company-wide approach to planning and analytics.

During the health check we look at:

  • How your analytics compares to your peers and competitors
  • Who has access to data across your organisation, and who needs it
  • How accurate and easy to understand your data is
  • Whether your data can be used to inform business decision making
  • If you have a data strategy in place to deliver on your business’ potential


“Importantly, we get to the detail. Not only in understanding how you currently use data, but also evaluating whether or not your investment has delivered the value it should have.

We carry out a thorough review of people, processes and technologies in your business, and identify areas of excellence and areas of weakness. We undertake an end-to-end review of the results from data sources, through to data structuring and storage and on to information distribution.

And the final result? You’ll receive a written report with clearly assessed fitness for purpose scoring covering systematic processes, appropriateness of technologies and their alternatives, as well as an independent review of people covering technical, business, people and leaderships skills.

We then help you build the foundations for analytics excellence and business change with clear and actionable steps to help ensure that any weaknesses are addressed through training and prioritisation.

Get in touch with us below to learn more about our Analytics Health Check and look out for our latest updates on our upcoming events.


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