Thinking Big: Aligning Technology Investments With Quantifiable Business Value
In order to be successful at whatever we do, we need to plan. In May, I will be running my first half-marathon in six years. I have what I think is a great training plan, and have mapped it out by working backwards – ensuring that I can fit all of my training into the plan and achieve my goal by the date of the race.
I will make it, barely, but it got me thinking more broadly about the fact that many organizations are looking at analytics in much the same way. My goal is the first of many, as I am looking to build up my endurance to where it used to be. I see something similar in many organizations: they look at analytics as an “aside.”
Yes, analytics are important, but for what – beyond measuring and monitoring – many are unable to quantify. This sometimes creates a haphazard approach to the development and deployment of technology investments, with organizations thinking of analytics as an “aside” and not of primary importance.
Many of the companies I have worked with in the past started off following this sort of path. They understand what's missing and develop a set of metrics they think will provide them better insight. But they do not link these metrics with broader goals, the data management requirements that support overall visibility, and the action required to improve business outcomes. They shelve business intelligence (BI) and data management projects to take care of operational challenges, but do not link the fact that analytics can help them avoid the same types of operational challenges in the future.
The reality is that the strategy that might work for a personal athletic goal or short-term dashboard deployment only scratches the surface of what is required for successful BI and analytics investments. It might help with initial dashboards and reporting insight, but to really take technology investments to the next level and mitigate risk while identifying opportunities, an organization needs to identify its current end goal, develop a plan (working backwards with individual project plans), and ensure that its business goals align with business outcomes.
Part of this requires understanding how the solutions being adopted link to better business processes and support broader needs. For instance, leveraging systems that provide greater insight into customers helps to identify potential churn before it occurs, the financial and social implications of losing that account, and the cost of offsetting that loss by acquiring new customers.
In today’s world, understanding a customer goes beyond having insight into their buying habits or demographics, but also includes social networks and influence. This type of outlook should be applied to every aspect of an organization to ensure that technology adoption supports broader business and performance goals that drives quantifiable business value over time.