data-driven accelerating with technology

Revving Up a Data-Driven Team

Part 4: Accelerating With Your Technology

You can’t have a data-driven team without a fast, easy way to analyze your data. In this section, we cover how to find – and then implement – the right analytics tool for your team.

Determine Your Needs

  • Who is your user? Many technology implementations fail because tools are selected without the end user in mind. Determine who will be the power users of your analytics tool. (Since you’re reading this series, these users are probably members of your own team.) Keep their needs in mind, and make sure they are active participants in the selection process.
    Revving Your Data-Driven Team
    Part 1: Fueling Your Culture
    Part 2: Shifting Your Organizational Structure
    Part 3: Steering Your Talent

    If you don’t work closely with your core users, you may want to draft a persona for them. What part of the business are they in? What kinds of technology are they comfortable with? What tools do they already use in their daily lives? What level of analytics skills do they have? Do they have – or need – database skills to do their job? Answering these few questions will help guide your search for an analytics solution.

  • What are you trying to solve? Going deeper, what business challenges are your users facing? Are they trying to identify customers at risk of churn? Opportunities to cross-promote products? Maybe they are looking to grow new segments of the business.

    It’s helpful to phrase these opportunities as questions. For instance:

    • Which marketing campaigns have been the most successful?
    • Which products are customers most often buying with a given promo code?
    • Which social media platform is generating the highest value leads?

  • What does success look like? The goal of your project isn’t just implementing a new tool. Success will be measured by what your tool enables your data-driven team to accomplish.

    • This might be tactical: “Users can answer 30 business questions in the time it previously took to answer one.”
    • It might be more cultural: “Our analytics enable us to be fully knowledgeable about our business and therefore able to make faster data-driven decisions.”
    • Or it could be more bottom-line oriented – growing revenue by a certain percentage.

    Even better – it could be a combination of each type. The more your goals show a return on investment, the more willing your leadership will be to support your technology spend.

Find the Right Tool – for You

  • Assess your existing tools. Start your investigation internally. Maybe the analytics software your technical specialists use is intuitive enough for your team to learn. Or maybe another department has found a self-service BI tool. You might find your company has already implemented a solid solution that can be scaled with incremental cost.
  • Don’t fixate on business requirements. Drafting business requirements can take a lot of time – and you’re unlikely to get it right, anyway. You’ll miss some important items and add others that will seem irrelevant later. The truth is, you won’t truly understand your requirements until you start to use these tools. Instead, take an agile approach. Identify a handful of questions you’d like answered and use that as your criteria.

  • Create a short list of vendors. Do your research: Get on the Internet, check out what BI analysts have to say, and talk to your peers in the industry. When reviewing vendor websites, watch their product demos to get comfortable with their product. Narrow your list down to no more than six vendors.

  • Request demos with your own data. Screenshots and videos are helpful, but you’ll need a live demonstration to really see how a solution operates. Ask the vendors to show their tools using a subset of your data or your type of data. Bring both team members and your technical counterparts to the discussion with vendors. You each will have a unique perspective and questions to ask.

  • Run a few trials. Select your top two or three vendors. Most companies will offer a free trial, so get these solutions in the hands of your power users.

  • Select a tool. Perfection doesn’t exist. But through this process, you should find at least one tool that your users are excited about. From your finalists, select one that satisfies most of your users’ goals, offers the greatest flexibility, and is most responsive to your needs. The good news is that with subscription deals as the norm for analytics tools these days, this decision doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment. Your vendor should provide good service, because they want to keep you beyond their initial contract.

Your group’s transformation is nearly complete! In our next installment, we’ll bring it all together and discuss navigating the change with your team.

Michael Elleray CC BY

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