The five fundamental pillars of analytics

Analytics has to be a good mix of ‘reading between the lines’ of your business as well as the market trends. We look at the key elements that form the basis of a robust analytics initiative
Shijo Joseph, Gujarat Gas

Shijo Joseph, Head -IT, Gujarat Gas

We happened to ask one of the sales people in my previous organization, what analytics do you expect the sales CRM to show you when you get up every morning?

The answer was, “I would like to know what will be the reaction of the customer I am visiting today! Is he going to be happy or is he going to shout at me.” A year later, we were able to develop a customer insight that pretty much answered the above question. In the process, we realized that we had pretty much all the information required to understand the moods of the customer lying in various systems. All needed was to consolidate and highlight the relevant information.

No business environment is complete without analytics. While the introduction of technology has boosted analytics capabilities, it existed in various formats and shapes though ages in business environment. If you trace back to any successful business venture, you can see analytics, both business and external factors, has played a key role in its success story. During the time, when we moved from polaroid films to digital photography, there were many companies which made a successful transition to the new technology and survived the curve, and many perished as well. And the deciding factor was the ability to analyze and predict the change and adopt accordingly. Sony was quick to adopt the new technology while Kodak took a while to decide the course.

The scope of analytics
We now stand in the age of big data and social engineering where there is highly unstructured data to analyze and understand the market and trends while the internal business information in highly structured in nature. In short, analytics has to be a good mix of ‘reading between the lines’ of your business as well as the market trends. Technically, it means managing both structured as well as unstructured information to derive meaningful business insights.

The audience for analytics
While there is an urge to provide business analytics to senior management and decision makers, it is equally important that all levels of employees have the required in-sight to business data to make decisions at their level. In fact, a bottom-top approach would be much more effective. The field level employees being closer to customers, any customer insight would help them in faster selling.

Pillars of any business analytics platform

#1 Customer Insights: Customer 360 Degree View
There are multiple customer touch points in an organization, be it sales, service or marketing. Having an identical view of customers and a consolidated view of their business interactions is a must for any fruitful interaction with business. How many of you who set out to have a meeting or conversation with your customer know how he is going to react to you? Is the interaction going to be a happy one or is the customer dissatisfied? If you have the answer to the above questions you have the right customer insights. A well-thought out customer analysis should be able to tell you your customer satisfaction levels.

#2 Market Insights
While the sales team focuses on customers, market leaders need to be aware of what is happening in the market. Profitability, competitors, and technologies in the market are key insights in making business decisions for a market. Profit is not a thing that needs to be evaluated post sales. Profit is the biggest tool in sales decision process. IT helps the market leaders to determine discounts to be applied. A consolidated profit of leads in a market segment helps market leaders to pass on additional discounts to certain customers without affecting the overall profitability in the segment.

#3 Competitor Insights
Do you know to who you are losing orders? Do you know the reasons for losing orders against each competitor, whether it is price, technical aspects, customer satisfaction, or lack of visibility of solutions?
Do you have visibility on which competitor is dominating each market segment? A change in this pattern could mean an aggressive strategy by any competitor into a market segment.

#4 Solution/Technology Insights
This may not be operationally relevant, but insight into solutions/
technologies in the market around products you see is very relevant in a strategic perspective. The maturity curve around new technologies and its relevance in market helps organizations take strategic decisions on product roadmaps.

#5 Social Insights
Every organization is socially connected these days with its customers. Hence, no analytics is complete without the social media aspect. A good analytical platform should have a mix of structured information and the unstructured social information.

While analytics platforms are fast changing, the core focus of analytics remains in giving the right information at the right time for making relevant business decisions. Design of any analytical environment has to be focussed on what business needs rather than what technology can offer. The prime focus is on providing visibility to the operational team in daily business decisions and then collating structured and unstructured information for more strategic decision making process.

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