Value of Data Analytics

4 November 2020

Mike Russell

Data Analytics and how to use data as an asset

Data analytics has progressed significantly beyond simply business reporting. But what is it?

Written by Lawrence Lilley, Chief Technology Officer

When you drive a car there are four zones of control: behind you (1), underneath you (2), directly in front of you (3), and the horizon (4).  Advanced drivers will tell you that, whilst scanning back and forth is important, the most important place to get your information is the horizon.

In data analytics there are four types of query, and these can map to these zones of control:

  1. Descriptive: What has happened in the past. Very useful but as it is looking backward at things that have already happened. Does it help a business determine what to move towards next? Beneficial for statutory reporting and returning information.
  2. Diagnostic: What is happening right now? Should we pivot due to a rush on certain products? What is our marketing doing to the operations?
  3. Predictive: This is where we start looking forward into the immediate future to predict what is going to happen next.
  4. Prescriptive: This is where our systems tell us what to do at a strategic level ahead of the urgent need. It can helps craft long term planning and strategy.

These four query types sit on a value and complexity curve. Each one presents a business with more value and generates more complexity.  By no means are descriptive analytics valueless; they are a must have, especially for regulatory and external business reporting. They simply don’t necessarily direct business growth.

Predictive reporting starts the journey towards the generation of insights. And this is where the new generation of analysis tools help. However, it all depends on the data available.  Uncovering and keeping track of all the data an organisation has is an imperative activity. And remember, the amount of data available to businesses is not limited to the structured application data. We need to consider all data; structured, unstructured and semi-structured. All data is asset.

One of the key advantages of modern data tools is their ability to work out relationships between data sources at runtime. No need for total understanding of the data before you get your tools generating insights and helping your decision making.

And you’re not restricted to company owned and controlled data.  There are lots of open data sources from governments to the financial press, from health providers to marketing and social media.

Moving to tooling-enabled enquiry can make the most of the data you have available.  Data science can produce insights that identify opportunities, define insight-driven goals, empower better decisions, and get an organisation to focus on issues that matter.

After people, data is your most valuable asset.

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