Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Agile Organization: Powered by Data

One of the core characteristics of an analytical competitor is the ability to rapidly leverage the organization's data to make decisions faster than their competitors. Being first to market with a new idea, product or service will ensure success when the profit margins are high before the big new thing becomes a commodity.

Here is an example of a business using analytics to gain market share:

We need to retain our high end customers with a loyalty program. Who are our most profitable customers?

Our most profitable customers must be the ones that drive highest revenues, lets go and see what this customer base looks like.

Thus begins a cycle of analysis to answer this question.

  • Data Discovery - What data is available on revenue? What systems contain this data? What is the quality and integrity of the data?
  • Data Acquisition - Know that I know what data is available, how do we get it? Does it have to be brought into the Data Warehouse? Do I need to get an extract from the ERP system?
  • Analysis - Looks like our highest revenue customers are large call centres...
  • Act - Call these clients as the pilot group to offer them 5% off new equipment installs.
  • Measure - Gather feedback from commercial account reps

Feedback comes in stating that many customers offered this discount said they would prefer more free support calls instead. What type of support call volume do we have anyway?

So begins another cycle of analysis to look at support call volume. If this data does not exist in a readily available source such as a Data Warehouse, then we have to go through the whole cycle starting with Data Discovery.


If we go through this again, we will likely lose at least days if not weeks until we are able to determine the next course of action on our journey to retain our most valuable customers. If a company is able to cut out the Data Discovery and Data Acquisition phases, they will be that much farther ahead of the competition.


Having high quality data that is available to decisions makers when they need it is essential to becoming an analytical competitor. Focus on building out a robust information architecture that contains data that is relevant to your business today. With this approach you will literally be two steps ahead of the competition.

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