For years, companies have been told data is the new oil. The idea that data can provide value to the business, increasing profits and improving efficiencies, has led to a multitude of analytics projects in organisations of all sizes. Unfortunately, the bulk of these projects fail.
Gartner highlighted this in a report that found that as many as 80% of all data science projects will fail because they don’t deliver business benefits since they solve the wrong problem. The analysts believe that most of these projects are too technology-focused. They are not driven by the challenges organisations face, and hence end up not being useful for the business.
To put it in simpler terms, these projects fail because companies don’t understand how to turn their data into actionable intelligence. And that is because they are not using the data to tell the right story.
Most companies collect so much data they end up being overwhelmed by the sheer volumes, and their response is to throw technology at it in the hopes that this will enable them to derive the value they should be getting from it. What they are lacking, in most instances, is not the tools – it’s context.
Context is key to understanding what the company wants to do with its data, and is the foundation of the story that will help the organisation realise value from analysis. Even before companies start collecting data, they need to determine what they need to collect, how much they need to collect, and from where. They need to know what the use case is, and what they are looking to gain.
This is where we start to see how value can be created out of data. The context provides the foundation that determines how to deal with the data that is being collected and which parts should be used. The context is what allows us to take the right actions to make sure we are telling the right story, and should be the first consideration – even before the collection of data.
Every company is unique, as is the story it needs to tell. The measure of success for every company is therefore just as unique. Telling the right story will allow the business to uncover insights from data that may have been missed before through correlations of data across different silos and datasets.
A successful data strategy doesn’t have to be a R20-million investment with a huge team running it. Companies can start really small. Just by building the right story, they can get immediate value out of their data because they will begin with an understanding of what they have, how it can be used, and what outcomes they should be achieving. Similarly, every employee in a company can gain value from data without having to be a data scientist. If the context is established at the beginning, and used to tell the right story, companies can bring the value of data to every part of their business.
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