Power to the data

Organisations are powerless without data analytics.

In the modern world, business intelligence seems to be running businesses. The ability to capture, process and interpret huge quantities of quality data has become the defining quality of successful companies. Without data analytics, without the ability to make decisions based on useful information, organisations are sitting ducks for today's unforgiving business environment.

A company's performance is ultimately determined by the quality of decisions its managers make. Questions such as: "Should we enter this market?", "Should we outsource?" and "What is the best marketing strategy for this product?" keep business managers up at night. If they don't find the right answers, they may not have a company left to manage anymore.

The smarter of these managers recognise data as a saviour. The answers are always there in the data. Enormous quantities of data are generated from numerous sources. Everything is documented. From consumer behaviour to economic activity, just about everything is quantified. As such, every company must use this data to its advantage.

Business intelligence (BI) and data analytics are the strongest tools at their disposal. Making sense of data is both a complicated and crucial capability. When decision-makers are flooded by industry data, analytics help them identify relevant data and convert it into useful information.

Financial implications

The financial implications of data analytics are staggering. In an environment where every decision is tied to a positive ROI, BI and data analytics have graduated from 'advanced methodologies' to a business staple. Entire budgets can be, and are, based primarily on the insight delivered by analytics. To stay in business, companies must utilise BI; their bottom line depends on it.

Numbers are no longer limited to accountants or financial analysts working for a company. The importance of data intelligence cuts across all levels of hierarchy and job descriptions in a company.

The dire need for superior data intelligence even goes beyond any geographic and or industrial barrier. The nature of a business is irrelevant. Business success is increasingly becoming a numbers game, one that includes both quantitative and qualitative data.

Regardless of their industry and market, companies are united in their quest to offer their customers the best products and services. Their ability to leverage the data generated by the industry and market plays a crucial role in their success.

The 'always-connected' consumers of the modern business world warrant a highly developed sense of data understanding. Every business perpetually shares the Web and mobile space with the people it serves.

Of speed and responsiveness

From market research to metrics, smart companies employ numerous techniques and methodologies to understand what the data is telling them. They cannot afford to miss out on or misinterpret anything. They cannot risk not understanding their customers' needs and wants, which are expressed through the data they generate. Converting numbers into patterns and patterns into conclusions becomes mandatory.

Analytics makes all the right business moves possible.

It's not just the consumers, but other industry elements that require a high level of responsiveness, which is achievable only through analytics. Shifting market conditions and rapidly evolving technology further push the need for effective analytics. Moreover, the intimidating economic conditions increase the pressure on organisations to use analytics. BI delivers the much-needed speed and responsiveness that helps organisations survive and succeed, regardless of their industry and market. Whether it's launching a product before competitors, or reacting to sudden market changes, analytics makes all the right business moves possible.

Analytics for HR

As IBM recently proposed, analytics can also be used to improve HR functions. Understanding employee perception and behaviour is as important as understanding consumer behaviour. BI can most certainly be pointed towards the business itself, augmenting its human resource management capability. This ability will also, ultimately, help improve the company and its odds of success, and even survival.

What companies need to realise is that BI and data analytics are not one-off 'techniques'. Rather, it is an ongoing process, an approach to doing business and managing a company.

Companies that don't recognise the importance of BI, or for any reason, are not able to use data analytics, face myriad problems. The biggest of these is the possibility of going under. Companies that view data analytics as a way of conducting business invariably have a higher competitive edge. They are no stranger to accomplishing their short-term and long-term goals.

Julian Ardagh
CEO, Effective Intelligence.

Julian Ardagh, CEO of Effective Intelligence, has over three decades of experience in the information systems, direct marketing and analytics space. He was trained in programming at IBM, is a business management (EE) graduate and an advanced marketing graduate (UCT Graduate School of Business). Ardagh founded Advanced Direct Marketing in the early 90s, along with Advanced Application Databases, which was acquired to form the basis of financial services direct marketing leader, Direct Axis. Ardagh helped build Direct Axis from an idea to a profitable reality, and later left to focus on his main passion: developing data and information solutions that combine science and data, at his new venture, Effective Intelligence. He has lectured widely on direct marketing and data quality systems, and served on many direct marketing and postal forum committees. He is a past chairman of the DMA Database sub-committee, and also served as the DMA vice-chairman for the Western Cape. Currently, Ardagh is on the board of the DMA’s ethics committee.

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