Business Analytics – It’s All about Making Informed Decisions

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Data is everywhere and is becoming part of every aspect of our lives. As a business in order to be competitive you need to be able to make good sound decisions that move the company forward. With the abundance of data you would think this would be an easy task, but for most it can be a daunting challenge.

Part of the challenge is you hear a lot about the latest technology that will make business analytics easy. It is easy to get caught up in the hype about the latest greatest thing such as “Big Data” or the latest dashboard tool. It is vital you select the right one. You have worked with your technical team in the past to get such initiatives started but they never got off the ground. You hear lots of talk about building a data warehouse that would contain all of the data you would ever need but you never once was able to make a business decision based on that data. Having the right small business software can help you process the data in meaningful ways to move towards the correct business decisions.

From a technology standpoint there are a lot of great tools for putting together business analytics solutions, but it is not about the tool. In order to help organizations make decisions, you need to start at the most fundamental point which is: “What problem or opportunity do you need more information on in order to make a decision?”. When you start to address your business analytics needs in this manner, you will see the world in a whole new light. To get a better perspective on the ins and outs of business analytics, you could consider the business analytics courses available to you online.

As an IT professional it is all about delivering value to your customer, which can be someone inside or outside of your company. Value is much easier to achieve in incremental portions that can be delivered in a timely manner. If you are thinking this sounds a lot like an agile approach – it is, but I digress. The way to deliver value is to deliver something that the business can use so by starting with a problem or opportunity is a great approach. Often the item is expense or revenue based such as “Why are sales margins decreasing?” or “What is the financial impact of raising the price of Product X by 10%?”.

Another important aspect is as the IT person working on this project, it is very important that you work closely with the business people to really understand the problem or opportunity. As the project progresses, building a trust relationship with the business people is key in order for the project to be successful. Developing the solution in a vacuum would be disastrous. As you start to pull the data needed to help the business make decisions, you will need their input every step of the way. Personally, this is the best part of doing business analytic projects, getting to work with people in order to solve problems.

Once the data gathering and shaping has taken place you can now work with the business people for the best way to make the data available in order for using it to make decisions. It is very important to make the data interactive so that business user can gain the insights needed in order to take action. The project can be declared a success once business decisions are being made from the data.

Business Analytics is not about building a massive data warehouse of all the operational data that should be able to provide answers to business questions; it is about designing a system that will help business users make informed decisions. The keys to success are: starting with problem or opportunity, having business users work closely with IT every step of the way, and providing the data in a meaning full format that will allow business users to make decisions.

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