Original version published May 2018.
Analytical insights are a powerful tool for today’s business world and can reveal paths toward increased productivity, operational efficiencies, innovative opportunities and faster time to market. Many companies have now embraced the idea of investing in analytics solutions, but implementing analytics tools is only one piece of the puzzle. For an analytics program to be truly successful, companies must learn how to act on analytical insights. The value of analytics is more than just data visualizations. To get the true value out of the data, analytical insights should be used to drive business change and move a company toward its goals.
Making analytic insights actionable involves change within an organization. Sometimes it involves a large, transformative change, but most of the time it involves a series of small changes over time. This means that a successful analytics program also involves building a company culture that values agility and flexibility with a priority given to change management best practices.
Change management best practices
Successful change management methods involve preventing barriers to change while implementing change in a speedy and efficient way. Barriers to change could be anything from miscommunications to insufficient resources, but often the biggest obstacle to change is cultural acceptance. For widespread adoption of change and greater chance realizing the ROI of analytic insights, it is important to focus on a few key change management principles.
Before developing a new initiative based on analytical insights, gather input from the stakeholders at all levels, most importantly front-line users who are transacting daily. Ask how the change would affect workflow and productivity. This information is not only useful when formulating the change strategy, the process of gathering information creates an inclusive environment around the change. The change becomes viewed as more of a group effort rather than a general directive from the top.
Communication is key, and during change implementation it is vital. Explain the vision and how the new approach will add value across the company. Be clear about timelines and expectations and be consistent about messaging from start to finish.
To become truly agile at change and move toward an analytics-driven business culture, it may be necessary to ditch the traditional bureaucratic business structure. Successful change management is not just a top-down approach. It requires advocates and leaders at all levels driving the change and collaborating to ensure success. Analytics teams should be dynamic and work closely with business teams in a collective effort.
Invest in change
Since analytics are constant and therefore, change is constant in an analytics-driven business environment, it is a good idea to establish change management committees or groups to facilitate the change. This could be an internal business group or external vendors specializing in change management and analytics.
Validate and monitor
Analytics and change management are linked in a continuous cycle. To validate the success of a new initiative, it is important to go back and monitor the analytics. If the change did not produce the expected results, modifications are made, changes are implemented and analytics continue to be monitored. Analyze, change, and repeat.
With the faster-pace of change present in an analytics-driven business environment, companies must build these change management best practices into their processes and workflows. Over time, change management methods will become streamlined and an organization will become more adept at responding to their analytics and adjusting business practice accordingly. Over time, benefits include:
1. Increased ROI
2. Creating data-driven & analytics-driven culture
3. Increased innovation
4. Increased agility and velocity (faster time to market)
Don’t let analytics end with a BI report. Realize the full potential of an analytics program by turning analytic insights into change. With a solid change management focus, an analytics-driven environment is possible and will give your business a competitive advantage.