Prototyping Analytics

More Data and New Computing Models

The amount of data being created, moved, and stored has grown exponentially over the past several years. Internet enabled devices including mobile phones, tablets, cameras, as well as smart devices that communicate status of equipment and the mobility of people and things capture and send data everywhere. Integrating large amounts of externally and internally created data is a foundation for deep information based research and analysis. Organizations that are capable of understanding and integrating the right data with the ability to act on the information will have a significant advantage over their competitors.

In addition to the growing volume of available data, advances in computing power, and the ability to store and operate on large datasets in real-time, is allowing for faster cycle times with respect to computing complex analytical models. The challenge is to rapidly develop and deploy analytics at the point of decision making within the business processes.

Prototyping with Intentional Business Impact

So how does an organization take advantage of the next wave of business analytics in order to not only survive, but thrive? At Strong Tower we believe it comes down to mastering two related disciplines:

  • Data Management – Viewing and managing data as an asset
  • Value Driven Analytics – Consistently delivering actionable information to Decision Makers

We believe treating data as a true asset to the business, including executing a formal strategy and plan for the creation and management of it is no longer optional. Organizations that continue to spend more than 50% of their time and resources acquiring, cleaning, preparing, and integrating data will be left behind by their peers.

In order to make a significant impact, organizations must understand not only what the business goals are, but what underlying drivers affect the goals and where decision points are throughout the business processes. We have found that the most successful analytics initiatives focus on the organizational and process changes needed to leverage the information provided from good analytics. In many cases, new information may need to be captured by the organization both internally and externally, requiring a cultural “buy-in” to affect behavioral change and a new way of thinking.

At Strong Tower, we have found that one of the best ways to determine the value of an Analytics Solution is to develop a Prototype and “test drive” the solution across the business organization and processes that it will impact. The benefits of this approach include:

  • Visualize the solution and key features prior to fully committing time and resources
  • Determining the value of the data and whether to include additional external data
  • Gain a better understanding of the Organizational Changes required to implement the solution
  • Understand the effort needed to operationalize the solution

Example Business Case (Safety Analytics)

At a Project and Engineering company, the organization has an imperative to continually drive a culture of safety. Safety related events in the field result in injuries, fines, loss work time, and can have a significant impact on the overall financial results for the company. Over the past several years the corporate safety department has implemented programs to continually drive down the number and severity of incidents and accident claims. Although the organization has seen aggregate results from their efforts, it is unclear which underlying factors are really driving the reduction and severity of the incidents. In addition, management would like to begin to understand what unknown factors may be driving incidents. In the future, management would also like to consider using advanced analytics to predict and identify avoidable incidents by taking preemptive action.

Strong Tower is working with this client to prototype a solution that can be implemented over time and can grow with the organization. A few keys to success for this client include:

  • Business Champion – Having a Business leader who will lead the charge is critical. A key Sr. Business Leader is needed who understands the business goal, is respected within the organization, and recognizes the need for organizational communication and process change to leverage the new analytics solution.
  • Value Focus – It is important to focus on a highly visible business goal and have a clear understanding of how the organization supports meeting that goal with data and information.
  • Limit Scope – Initially, the team should limit the amount of data and understand clearly how the data can be integrated and what is needed to prepare the data. This will allow for early feedback on data quality and cleaning requirements. Based on quick feedback some data may be dropped from scope and other data brought on based on prototyping models.
  • Focus on Process Early – As prototyping is performed, it is critical to begin developing and documenting the process and feedback loop of Information thru the system including who will be interacting with it and how the analytics will be used in day-to-day business processes.

Prototyping is a quick way to test the potential value of an analytics solution in addressing a business problem or opportunity. But successfully integrating the solution within the business processes it supports and completing the development and roll-out requires careful planning and execution. Strong Tower has deep experience in working with clients and guiding them thru this process.

Contact us today to discuss your key business goals and how an analytics prototype might make a big impact!