In recent years, some niche analytics tools have hit the market, drawing interest from both IT and business leaders. In some instances the reaction has been, “Wow, that’s a killer technology—we need to go figure out what problem we can solve with it.” However, taking this approach without giving careful thought to the desired business outcome can prove to be a waste of time and money.
Instead, work with your business partners to first understand the key questions related to important business challenges and opportunities, and then go about determining what’s required to answer them. For example, start first with a hypothesis and then determine what data sets are needed. Next, determine if different tools are needed to assemble the data for analysis, or if the data is already available and accessible (in that case you may just need to refine business processes to improve quality and reliability). At varying points throughout this often iterative process there will be opportunities to apply a variety tools, ranging from those that elucidate correlations in the data to further refine the hypothesis, to those that improve visualization or granular drill-down and exploration via dashboards and reporting. Only when you can truly understand the question—and how the answer will impact the business—can you make a decision on the best technology approach.
IT can’t and shouldn’t do it all, and a successful data strategy requires active participation from the entire organization. Yet there’s no question that business partners will greatly benefit from your team’s expertise, leadership, and collaboration. When it’s a cross-functional team effort, the result will produce much better outcomes for all.
Watch Workday SVP Dan Beck’s interview with CIO Diana McKenzie.