Taking a First Step to Advanced Analytics

September 15, 2015

Contributor: Laurence Goasduff

Getting started with advanced analytics is as much about changing mindset and culture as it is about tools and skills.

Are you concerned about not having the right tools or resources to get started with advanced analytics? You're not alone. Many organizations think that buying the right software and hiring a data scientist is the answer.

Ahead of the Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit 2015, Lisa Kart, research director at Gartner, explained that a successful advanced analytics strategy is actually more than acquiring the right tools. Changing mindset and culture, as well as being creative in finding a first win, are important steps to success.

"Failure to make these changes can be fatal," said Ms. Kart. Gartner predicts that through 2017, 60 percent of big data projects will fail to go beyond piloting and experimentation, and will be abandoned.

Ms. Kart recommends that business intelligence (BI) and analytics leaders apply four best practices to get their advanced analytics initiatives off the ground:

Choose a Business Problem That Can Provide a First Win

BI and analytics leaders need to work with business leaders to identify problems to tackle. Together, they need to review the key outcomes that drive the business, and they must find the particular decisions that could provide the biggest impact or, in many cases, the quickest payback. Wherever there is a lot of data there is opportunity.

Use Outsourcing and Buy Packaged Apps When You Don't Yet Have Advanced Analytics Expertise

Many organizations assume that they must continue on the current path with a centralized BI team and tools, and therefore build advanced analytics capabilities themselves. For those getting started, there are better options. Organizations that don't yet have the required skills internally can use service providers that do, or buy advanced analytics applications to show the value for a particular problem.

Identify the Stakeholders in Your Organization That Need to Be Convinced of the Value of Advanced Analytics

It's essential to identify the key stakeholders in the organization who need to be convinced. These are the naysayers and the skeptics, but may also be the decision makers or those that carry out the actions. Not having them on board can derail any potential success. Having a business case that demonstrates value is, of course, necessary, but by itself may not be enough.

The hardest part is getting people to see why they need to behave or act differently. Often, succeeding with advanced analytics initiatives comes down to not only delivering the analytics and communicating the value, but also creating a data-driven culture.

Decide If You Want to Build the Skills and Tools Internally

Businesses that achieve best-in-class advanced analytics solutions typically do so through a build strategy. However, building the skills and tools internally isn't for everyone, and is often not the best way to start. It makes sense for an organization to build internally only if analytics is a critical differentiator in their industry, the area is of strategic importance, if a high level of agility and granularity of control is required, or if there are many opportunities across the organization to apply analytics in multiple use cases or lines of business.

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