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How Do Executives Know When to Invest in Analytics?

Executives are being faced with a difficult question: when is the right time to begin investing in Big Data Analytics?  Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer, but let’s examine how he or she will know when they are ready. The answer may surprise you.

The fact is most companies have invested heavily in solutions that help them make good business decisions.  Most are ingesting and storing enormous amounts of data,  have tools to gain insights from that data and hopefully have a good feel of how the company is performing. That’s a good step towards becoming data driven – a first step. To truly make data driven decisions, it takes more than company data and Business Intelligence tools.

The real question is this: how does an executive know when their organization is ready to take the next step beyond Business Intelligence to leverage data for Predictive and Prescriptive analytics? How do they know if an open source platform will do, or if that comes with too much risk? How do they know what to do and how to do it?

These are questions that must be answered before one can go from a “what happened” mentality, to a “what’s going to happen” mentality. My contention is they won’t know until 3 critical things are in place:

  1. Executives need to understand that analytics will take time, money and experience to be successful.  If hiring some data scientists or buying another tool could enable success, everybody would be doing it.  Anybody that thinks they can be successful with that approach is fooling themselves.  If you don’t have time, money and experienced people, either get them or don’t bother, because you’re likely to fail.
  2. To develop a roadmap, you need to know 3 things:  understanding of where you are, where you want to go and what it’s going to take to bridge the gap.  If you aren’t sure you can do these things yourself, get somebody that’s done it before to help you.  To quote Lewis Carroll, “…if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there…”
  3. Execution Capability. Like with anything else, the greatest plans fail without proper execution – both technical and non-technical.  You must have good data, training and experience.  Once models are in-place, business people need to know how and when to use them to make better

If you’re committed, have a roadmap when to invest analytics and know how to execute, you’re probably ready for Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics!