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Alteryx

What's your organization's top overall three strategic priorities? Is it sales growth, customer satisfaction, product portfolio expansion, or a whole different set entirely? How about for your department? Do you know the correlation between your department's measurable objectives, and those defined by the C-Suite?

 

Are the questions you're asking in your analytics projects — whether you're in marketing, sales operations, customer service, or in IT, moving the dial to support those goals? And can you confidently connect the dots between the KPIs, dashboards and models your team is developing right now, and your departmental, organizational, and enterprise-wide strategies?

 

If your analytics programs are a little more ad-hoc, then you have an "analytics disconnect" — and your team is not getting the full value from the time and technology investments in analytics they're making. You're not alone. A recent study by PwC found that 54-percent of companies innovating using technology still need to bridge the gap to business strategy. Yet, aligning projects to business results and strategy delivers big benefits. For example, research by the Project Management Institute found that when a project's identified benefits are aligned with an organization's strategic goals, 80 percent more will meet or exceed forecasted ROI than those that don't.

 

The good news is that there's a proven playbook to boost your ROI, by bridging the disconnect — and turning analytics into competitive advantage. The International Institute for Analytics share their guidance in a new whitepaper, "Three Paths for Aligning Analytics to Business Strategy." The IIA is an authority on analytics maturity and best practices, co-founded by Tom Davenport, whose "Competing on Analytics" concepts were named by Harvard Business Review as one of the twelve most important management ideas of the past decade. In the guide, the IIA identifies four key reasons behind the disconnect that they see repeatedly in the organizations they engage with:

 

  • Teams responsible for analytics lack a "seat at the table."
  • Analytics is buried in the back-office limiting vital business knowledge for analysts.
  • No clear perspective on strategic priorities or metrics.
  • Teams failing to convert business questions to analytics initiatives and answers.

 

So how can you build a bridge to success? It turns out there isn't a one size fits all formula, but there are three journeys to consider, and it really depends on your organization's current maturity level. For theater fans, IIA uses an analogy to define them―Off-Broadway to Broadway, Spotlight to Floodlight, and Orchestra Pit to Symphony.

 

Step on to Broadway

Moving Off-Broadway to Broadway is a play for organizations that are early in their analytics journey. You know you fall into this group if you have analytics folks scattered across the business, and who are acting in a relatively uncoordinated way. The goal here is to start getting some initial momentum and showing value with analytics, which means building alignment from the bottom up. IIA recommends asking what challenges to cross-departmental collaboration exist, and if there's an appetite for better coordination. They also advise that it's important to take a close look at what strategic metrics are informed by data, and if there's an opportunity to increase the quality of those metrics.

 

Turn on the Floodlight

If you're already a little further down the path, then you're ready to move from the Spotlight to the Floodlight. Signs you're ready to take this route include key executives pushing for analytics, plans for a more centralized analytics team, and a commitment to invest in data and technology to support it. The real goal here is for data and analytics to have a strategic pillar, outside other strategic initiatives, and begin moving the business to being fundamentally, and coherently, data-driven. Begin by identifying the right success metrics for year one — is it establishing a scorecard of strategic and operational performance measures? Or perhaps it's measurable reducing the latency to decision making for line managers? Identify what the specific people, time, and technology investments are to support "analytics-as-a-priority."

 

Join the Symphony

You're already there? Then it's time upgrade from the Orchestra Pit to the Symphony. You've already got a more centralized team for improved governance, consistency, and efficiency, and you've got buy-in―now it's time to turn up the heat on competitive advantage, and make analytics more impactful and relevant. With a top down perspective, it's time to identify business areas that are ripe for deeper analytics to support their execution, and support business strategy. IIA also advises stronger internal promotion of analytics to increase awareness and impact―coaching managers on how to use data, training on metrics, and how to incorporate analytics in decision-making.

 

To get into the detail around each of these strategies, download IIA's best practices whitepaper, "Three Paths for Aligning Analytics to Business Strategy." You'll find out how to create an actual time boxed plan around each of these plays, and get four key recommendations that you really should consider, no matter what stage you're at. It's time to break through the disconnect, and take the journey from Off-Broadway, to Symphony.

Matthew Madden
Director, Product Marketing

Matt Madden is a Director, Product Marketing at Alteryx. Matt has over 16 years of experience in the analytics and enterprise software industry. During his career he has held roles in sales and marketing, both with the same goal, to help organizations realize the power and benefits that analytics can have on their business.

Matt Madden is a Director, Product Marketing at Alteryx. Matt has over 16 years of experience in the analytics and enterprise software industry. During his career he has held roles in sales and marketing, both with the same goal, to help organizations realize the power and benefits that analytics can have on their business.