Decision making through data analytics: a holistic approach
Data has grown to become a powerful commercial tool; with the continuing expansion in the volume and variety of data generated, as well as the development of associated software, data analytics has increasingly become available to businesses of all sizes. Increasingly therefore, all businesses can cost-effectively use data analytics to act as an aid to, rather than a replacement for, human decision making.
Whilst accepting potential pitfalls in data analytics, for example human bias, or the presence of multiple interpretations, used correctly, data analytics has the potential to support strategy development, underpin and inform day-to-day operational decisions, reduce inefficiencies, and overall, gain a competitive advantage.
Most importantly, data analytics does not remove the need for human analysis, oversight, and decision making; it enhances it.
Jonathan Thorne, Partner
Data analytics can be applied both internally and externally, and used by a wide range of business functions, for example:
1) Executive leadership can analyse industry, market, and customer trends to prioritise new markets, refine existing products and services, or identify new ones.
2) Marketing and sales departments can monitor the performance of historic campaigns to optimise new ones and maximise sales pipeline conversion.
3) Finance teams can analyse historic trends and company performance and use this to inform financial forecasting and broader business planning decisions, refine pricing, and look to reduce inefficiencies.
Increasingly, ‘off the shelf’ data analytics and visualisation tools such as Power BI, Tableau, Qlik and SAP Analytics empower even the smallest businesses to take advantage of data at minimal cost.
Those SME businesses implementing data analytics technology and techniques for the first time need to prioritise, by identifying the areas where data can clearly create meaningful and demonstrable change, and then over time work to create a data driven decision-making culture where everyone is empowered to make better, more informed decisions that reflect the holistic needs of the business. This helps to avoid overwhelming the organisation immediately and allows management to ‘test and learn’ which data analytics approaches are best suited to the business, iterating as they go.
Most importantly, data analytics does not remove the need for human analysis, oversight, and decision making; it enhances it. Management needs to link the commercial side of business, technology function, and analytics teams to generate information from which the best course of action can be selected based on the new-found knowledge gained from data.
At Sovereign, capitalising on the opportunities provided by data analytics, whilst understanding that good decision making requires a holistic approach, is often core to how we support the management teams we partner with to achieve their own growth and value creation goals. Examples of where we have supported the deployment of data and analytics include at Agena Group, where Microsoft Power BI has been deployed to monitor the company’s +2,000 sites in real time, make associated operational decisions, prepare more informed financial forecasts, and increasingly provide value-add analytics to clients, whilst at Bristow & Sutor, the company’s proprietary technology platform utilises data analytics to make operational decisions such as route planning to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, forecast recruitment requirements, and provide real-time reporting to clients.
For more information on how Sovereign backs and supports businesses to take advantage of data analytics, please contact Jonathan Thorne.