Evaluate and develop data & analytics capabilities

Updated: Jan 6

Overview

Improving organisation data and analytics capabilities while delivering business impact can be a tricky task to balance especially when a strategy is not supported by a data informed roadmap. Aligning business objectives to capability improvements is critical for organisation survival when navigating economic uncertainties.


Taking an “outside in” approach to evaluate core data and analytics capabilities across your organisation or within a business unit is the first step towards building a data driven transformation strategy. The breadth and depth of a review is entirely based upon the level of change the organisation can address within a fixed period.


This post is aimed to inform product owners, strategy and transformation leads, and stakeholders the value of undertaking a capability diagnostic before embarking into a transformation program and how FractalWorks can support you throughout the process.


Introduction

Analytics is becoming key for many businesses' survival as markets become extremely challenging. Companies like Google, Apple and Amazon place analytics as a core element for all decision making which drives product investment decisions, improved customer experiences, operational efficiencies etc,. Many other industries are following in their direction to great success.

“Forty-seven percent say that data and analytics have significantly or fundamentally changed the nature of competition in their industries in the past three years.”

Catch them if you can: How leaders in data and analytics have pulled ahead - McKinsey Sept, 2019


Pivoting an organisation to be analytically driven can be a significant challenge when the organisation’s data and analytic capabilities are based upon legacy processes and outdated skills. Furthermore, issues such as lack of data accessibility, quality and integrity, poor governance, and compounded lack of modern tools and processing environments hinder the ability to leverage data assets through the application of modern analytics processing.


Addressing these types of issues typically requires a lengthy diagnostic analysis, strategy definition and solution roadmap before any tangible changes is recognised. Therefore it is imperative to incrementally leverage new analytical methods, data, tools, processes and work within the environment constraints to deliver a sustainable transformation and long lasting business impact.


The following four sections discuss the value of a diagnostic process that, in my view, is a key requirement when pivoting into an analytics driven organisation.



Why should you do a capability diagnostic?

Outperforming leaders deliver value through analytics by clear objective setting, leveraging trusted data, applying modern lean development practices and developing collaborative team working. Undertaking a capability diagnostic, across multiple dimensions, provides an evidence based review to inform opportunities to improve upon.


Fig 1 - The failure formula
“The majority of companies today adopt a fragmented, siloed approach to analytics tools and data. This approach correlates with diminished business success.”

What Separates Analytical Leaders From Laggards? - MIT Sloan Review Feb 2020


Delivering business success through the use of analytics requires a number of technical and non-technical artefacts and functions to exist. Therefore knowing what, how and when to apply these becomes critical when justifying and aligning investments, and mobilising a workforce to execute the desired changes.


By applying a rigorous capability diagnostic framework issues such as ambiguous objective setting through to unfit legacy processes are discovered. This in turn informs a pragmatic and viable transformation roadmap.


Example issues that cause poor business impact:


  • Poorly defined objectives, lack of collaboration between business and implementation teams cause an incomplete or at worst an incorrect solution

  • Legacy development practices and manual human driven interventions

  • Lack of data confidence due to poor data management processes (i.e. untrusted data, timeliness, incompleteness, quality etc,)

  • Multiple team handoffs and onerous approval process


What businesses would benefit?

In short any business wanting to leverage data and analytics to differentiate themselves within the market, build and sustain revenue streams.


Whether you are a small, medium or large sized company the issues you face when developing and delivering solutions is often very similar. However, one key difference is the agility and speed some businesses can apply change and recognise impact, being lean and capable matters. Companies such as Netflix, Etsy, Fidelity and Google all share a common characteristic and that is they all deliver often and recognise business benefits early.


“Forty-seven percent [of small businesses] are using data to improve interactions with their customers.”

Small businesses are using more analytics to survive COVID-19 - TechRepublic May 2020


Finding new ways to use data to connect with customers, develop new products, improve operations, and retain talent will become key objectives as we navigate through the next few years of uncertainty. In summary the following areas are critical to get right:


  1. Becoming Data Informed - Leverage data and analytics to develop customer and business insights for new innovative solutions.

  2. Operational Efficiency - Improve operating margins and practices through the use of automation, lean processes, modern technologies, automated processes (DevOps, MLOps, AutoML) etc,.

  3. Talent Management - Retain, motivate and attract talent through upskilling, mentoring, collaboration, psychological safety team practices, performance reviews and expectations setting.


Diagnostic Model

The FractalWorks data and analytics diagnostic model is based upon five key capability dimensions, figure 2. Each dimension consists of a suite of questions and detailed rating criteria that when applied produce a capability score and an informed next best action.


Fig 2 - Capability dimensions

Diagnostic Dimensions Overview

Five diagnostic dimensions, modules, have been developed to assess data and analytics capabilities.


Team

Capture your team's ability to deliver business impact through the use of data and analytics, apply modern technologies and approaches, and ability to leverage cross functional teams and collaboration models.


Impact

Review how use cases are defined and prioritised against business impact, and maintained over time.


Analytics

Measure organisation analytical capabilities and maturity, and how analytics drive innovative business solutions.


Data

Review data management processes, data quality and timeliness, governance, platform and engineering capabilities.


Culture

Learn how your teams leverage collaborative working models, apply psychological safety, ownership, upskilling, and governance to continuously improve organisation delivery.


Engagement process

Engagements are structured into three phases; preparation, discovery and reporting, figure 3. Initially, partnering with your team to establish the key capability dimensions and questions to use is a key activity to build a collaborative partnership. This will enable a successful discovery phase and ultimately a well informed outcome.

Fig 3 - Engagement process

Throughout the engagement we partner with your teams by interviewing, iteratively develop and refine views, continuously share and validate finding. On completion a final report is provided detailing how current capabilities affect solution delivery and business impact. The report includes benchmarked capabilities, practical short and long term improvements, and a high level roadmap.


Summary

FractalWorks provides a hyper-contextualised data and analytics capability diagnostic service aimed to deliver organisational insights, identifying capabilities, and opportunities to improve using a structured data informed process.


Clearly for businesses to survive in turbulent economic conditions and a tightening talent market they need to deliver innovative solutions whilst delivering impact at pace. While this develops forward revenue streams and improves operational margins, it also attracts and retains top talent thereby becoming an attractive place to work; Beers, pizzas and doughnuts is not the only answer to attract and retain key talent.


So don’t blindly dive into the next transformation project without being informed and having a clear glide path to transformation. Contact FractalWorks to see how we can help you on your journey.


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