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Tips on making your data analytics work

Edmund Chua, Analytics Specialist, Logicalis Asia | April 23, 2015
Edmund Chua, Analytics Specialist at Logicalis Asia, crafts a best practice tips and how-to guide, based on his personal experience, on how one can go about developing a Business Intelligence report and the key to successful analytics.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Many have heard success stories of how companies use "Big Data" or "Analytics", about the possibilities that they hold, and yet struggle to understand their relevance.

Chances are that you are not the only one. A friend of mine went to an analytics seminar recently, and was blown away by the stunning graphs and dashboards he saw. "They were even able to include Bing maps as part of the graphs," he told me.  However, after all the initial excitement has died down, he asked me after the event, "What will be my Return on Investments (ROI) if I do all these?"

I think he hit the nail right on the head.  Analytics tools produce fanciful dashboards, limited only by the depth of your imagination. During the Internet bubble, many companies rushed to set up websites, only to find themselves unprepared to maintain the sites or unsure about the next steps after the sites are up. 

Many companies today implement dashboards to visualise their business. Dashboards are often the front-end access to business intelligence and the best way to gain insight into an organisation's operations and performance. They can be intuitive to use and provide organisations a way of understanding the value proposition of their sales and business. The values on a dashboard can be developed in a way that affects real-time processes and guide a business in its strategic decision making.

However, their benefits come only if the right business issues are identified and solved. Else, the dashboards remain as fanciful graphs, impressing the users, but with virtually zero ROI.

Before we start thinking about analytics, and talk about any data strategy, we need to be clear why we even want those dashboards and reports. Do we have a specific problem to solve, or are you looking for ways to enhance things? Can analytics deliver a solution? The next step is to define what kind of information you need and how you want to use that data and analysis. An effective report must be able to show how the business, or a particular segment of the business, is doing. They must allow the user to drill deeper and understand why certain numbers are up or down.

If you already have a methodology that you intend to use such as DMAIC (Six Sigma) or Throughput Accounting (Theory of Constraints) etc, determine the type of data, format and presentation that will be required. Apart from the methodology, it is important to be clear on what you want to understand, in order to support your objective, the types of decisions that you want to make, and how the data can help support your decision. Consider the audience, and the types of information they will demand from their perspectives, and how to best present that data to support their analyses.


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