Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Making Sense of Data

With the ever improving ability of companies to track and store data, it is only natural that business intelligence (BI) tools have gained increasing importance in C-suites. In fact, the market is glutted with umpteen BI tools, vying for this extremely lucrative space. Needless to say, it has been an equally lucrative opportunity for consulting companies as well.  

However, the businesses need to be very careful. Data analysis can often be the right way to reach a wrong conclusion. To truly unlock value from mountains of data, they would need multi-disciplinary teams that understand the importance of the task and are willing to work together. The same is true for consulting firms that want to cash-in on the desire of businesses to use their data more effectively.

From business perspective, there are four key challenges on the road to using data effectively:
  1. Capturing and organising data
  2. Making the data useful and accessible for the business user
  3. Ensuring that data analysis is statistically significant
  4. Making the whole process timely and cost effective 
Based on these, logically it would help if the team has the following profiles:
  • business owner to fund the project & articulate the answers sought from data
  • business analyst to bridge the gap between techology and business
  • trainer to teach business users about how to go about accessing/ manipulating the data
  • data analyst to help business owners to analyse data and decide if the data interpretation is actually significant statistically. Many modern BI tools can help business owner to manipulate data by himself, but he may still need support to extract, transform, and load data into the system. Given the technical nature of things, help may be needed to troubleshoot as well
  • business consultant with industry specific expertise to help business owners to refine the questions they seek answers to, and create processes to ensure data integrity
  • project manager to coordinate the team, budget, and execution

Needless to say, one person can play multiple roles. 

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