Transformation Consulting and Big Data Go Hand-In-Hand

Jun 14 2017
By Joseph Knecht in Insights

Looking ahead to a disruptive transformation? You may find yourself seeking the assistance of a professional business consultant. Make sure any such consultant thoroughly understands big data. You could say they must have dual citizenship in the lands of business and technology.

Collecting data is inexpensive and relatively easy to do these days, so lots of companies do it, but most aren’t using data — conducting business intelligence — correctly. What keeps companies from crunching data the way they should? Probably one or more of the following:

  • Inexpert attempts at understanding data can create more questions than answers
  • Some business owners and managers don’t believe the advantages of data are real
  • There’s a fear of getting sucked into spending too much time gathering and analyzing data
  • Some folks are intimidated by the massive sprawl of their own data
  • In some cases, the people running a company just can’t break old habits

It’s tempting to just let it go. After all, your company’s been operating just fine for years on the surface of big data, right? But that may be changing. There’s a good chance your competitors are becoming more effective users of data in ways that help them win the fight for customers. With all the tools at your disposal, there’s no reason that has to happen!

Data is useless until it is organized, analyzed, and communicated

If data is used the right way, including blending it smoothly into primary business strategies, it generates usable value. If not, gathering data in the first place is a waste of time and money – and can even drag a company completely off track, for more losses of time and money. Embarrassing.

In more than a decade of managing data for both Proteus and our hundreds of clients, we have come up with these important priorities for businesses that want to do data right:

  • Identify big rocks (obvious areas of insight in your data) and then focus on narrower parameters for a more thorough analysis — this approach leads to more actionable results
  • Bring data alive by using it to tell stories that help both team members and customers understand the most meaningful things, such as customized web applications or customer portals. 
  • Understand all sources of data and avoid focusing too much on one source – don’t forget applicable data lurking in the “Internet of Things”
  • Don’t identify quantitative information and then stop; understand qualitative data as well for deeper insights that really get you somewhere
  • Always use data as a starting point, then move to business actions, such as forecasting, business model transformation or product innovation

No matter how you decide to hunt down, chew up and spit out your data, visualization is key to making it valuable. Infographics, charts, slide shows and illustrations help put data into context and present it so it’s easy for people to understand and use effectively. But remember, keep it simple in the beginning and then scale out.

Use the right tools to crunch data

The tools needed to effectively extract real value from data easily fall into Proteus’ three resource categories: people, processes and platform. Your team and any business consultant you bring on board should be able to combine these three areas harmoniously to create the “special sauce” you need for meaningful change.

In addition to ensuring you bring on people with passion and knowledge for both business and technology, it’s critical to provide technology that enables and enriches collaboration between those people.

With the right people, you can use technology to build effective processes that do things like centralize data, carve out lean methodologies, understand your business model in-depth, and even provide quick and easy onboarding of greenhorn team members. One of the most important things data can do is help you create and prioritize processes based on business case instead of just going with your gut, a big mistake many enthusiastic business owners make!

Of course, it’s not as simple as this one article makes it sound. You’ll still have obstacles to overcome before you get the people, resources and platform you need to punch your data and create meaningful change. It’s okay to ask for help from a professional business consultant to make sure your data doesn’t just sit there, or worse yet lead you down the garden path to totally misunderstanding your customer base. Just make sure that consultant is living in both worlds: business and technology.

Joseph Knecht
Post by Joseph Knecht

Joseph Knecht is the CEO at Proteus and loves to cover the topics of entrepreneurship, digital transformation, and web product commercialization.

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