Three Steps to Telling a Good Information Yield Story

February 23, 2016

Contributor: Susan Moore

If you can tell a good story about information yield from your data and analytics investments, no one will question your worth to the organization.

Information and analytics strategies rarely list metrics of success. Convenient as this may be, it makes bad business sense. Information specialists can be so focused on the structure, consistency and perfection of the data that it is easy to lose sight of the desired business outcomes.

Only 15 percent of all data and analytics strategies reviewed by Gartner analysts over the past two years contained concrete business outcomes.

Speaking at the Gartner Business Intelligence, Analytics and Information Management Summit in Sydney this week, Ted Friedman, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, told delegates to think about “information yield” to demonstrate outcomes.

“Many of the metrics we see are a bit inward looking,” Mr. Friedman said. “There is always a way to link the investments you are making in information management to tangible business outcomes. For every dollar you spend on people and technology for managing data, what do you get back?”

Gartner defines information yield as the dividend received from an investment in information management and analytics.

The dividend, or return, is the cumulative effect (the sum) of all the initiatives driven by the information and analytics strategy on an organization's business outcomes. Obviously, within an acceptable timeframe, the return needs to be higher than the investment.

You can improve the efficiency of the information management process itself, focusing on creating and delivering the right data faster with higher quality, for a lower cost. It’s even better if you can link your investment to business process, ideally elsewhere in the business, like sales, marketing, operations and procurement. But still the dividends are limited, Mr. Friedman said.

How to tell the story

If you want to hit the ball out of the park, look for the information yield you achieve for your customers. What information do you have that is so valuable for your customers that they choose you over the next competitor, or that they are even willing to pay for it? Customers may want better data about where their package is, instead of just the lowest shipping cost. Farmers might choose crop insurance that provides the best weather information and guidance on how to maximize the crop, instead of just the cheapest rates. In the public sector, one municipality might offer the best open data to attract new businesses into the area.

“ “Use information yield to tell a story, a narrative, that takes everyone on a journey,” Mr. Friedman said. “There is so much more beauty to a story than a spreadsheet.””

Step 1: Start with a compelling business problem, not an explanation of the technology. Example: “Our customers are complaining they can’t find what they need. Sales are down 7 percent as they turn to new entrants in our market.”

Step 2: Introduce the main challenge. Example: “The problem is, we have legacy systems that are all disconnected. Product information is all over the place.”

Step 3:  Define the solution. Example: “We saw that Walmart installed semantic search for their web store, and improved conversion rates by more than 10 percent. If we do that too, and at the same time, work on our master data management, we can quickly bounce back”.

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