Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

What Your Data Wants To Tell You


Your data has a ton of stories to tell you – and maybe even a few warnings – if only you would listen. Data talks and today I'm exploring its wishlist:

"Make Me Impossible To Ignore!"
Have you ever been distracted during a phone conversation and missed what the person on the other end said to you? No one likes to be ignored and neither does your data. Sometimes it's practically screaming at your inventory managers, "Don’t send anymore widgets to Mississippi – they aren’t selling," or yelling at your marketers, "Stop buying leads from Company X – they're not converting into revenue!" The problem is that data is easy to ignore, especially if your company culture allows it. Since arcplan is a BI company, we're ruled by metrics from the top down. Our marketing department keeps track of lead flow on a daily basis with dashboards, so we have constant visibility into what lead sources are best converting to opportunities and which opportunities best convert to closed deals. Sure, it's easy to just stop looking at the dashboard but then I wouldn't have a job anymore. Our company demands that we pay attention to our data. Dashboards work for us, since they can be delivered via email on a regular schedule so if we’re on the road, we don't need to login to any system to view our performance data – we just check our email. Would your company benefit from in-your-face BI dashboards? Maybe then people would stop ignoring what the data has to say and they'd be able to make better decisions that contribute to improved company performance.

"Hurry Up, Please!"
Do you wait days or weeks for IT to deliver the data you need to perform analyses? If so, you're not alone. Many of our clients come to us when they tire of this wait time and are starting to see the competition pull ahead as they’re able to make more agile business decisions. Our client Japs-Olson, a commercial printer in Minnesota, was waiting a week or more for reports from IT when they decided to implement an arcplan BI solution. Now it takes their CFO – who you'd classify as a regular business user, not a report or dashboard designer – minutes to create a new report. That kind of quick turn-around is what separates top performers from the rest of the pack. Companies that offer power users ad-hoc reporting, where users have real-time access to data directly from the source and the ability to run on-the-fly reports, are listening to their data. Companies that implement mobile BI, which allows users 24/7 real-time access to performance information, are making it easy for executives, remote staff and sales people to quickly take action, and in today's business environment, time is of the essence. Taking too long for your data to get to you is enough to jeopardize your company's performance.

"Good Data Wranglers Needed!"
Good analysts are like endangered species. They're a necessary component of our business intelligence ecosystem but sadly, they're in short supply. A 2011 McKinsey Global Institute report predicted that by 2018, the United States could lack 140,000 to 190,000 workers with deep analytical skills and another 1.5 million managers and analysts who know how to use analysis of large data sets to make effective decisions. So while businesses are spending more than ever on BI and analytic technology - $12.2 billion in 2011 according to Gartner – the talent pool doesn't seem to be growing. Simple reporting is not going to be enough for organizations that want to grow in the next few years; data analysis is the key to gaining much-needed insight from mountains of data. Companies are going to be fighting for analysts and managers who have the expertise necessary to manage their data. As one of our VPs at arcplan likes to say, "There’s no unemployment for good data analysts."

In the meantime, if you're in a position where you need to analyze data but you have had little to no training, we presented a webinar last year called "How To Be An Analyst," where our Senior Vice President, Dwight deVera, showed attendees how to take their analysis efforts beyond simple sorting and ranking to more complex areas like Contribution/Pareto and Projection/Regression. View the recording here.

Listening to your data means hiring the analytic talent necessary to hear what it's saying and then disseminating the information to business users via easy-to-use (and impossible to ignore) business intelligence solutions like dashboards and mobile BI. It's time to flip the script – rather than your data harboring secrets you're unaware of, it's time to take charge of data analysis and extract insights that help you and your team make better decisions.

Monique Morgan

About Monique Morgan

I'm the Marketing Project Manager at arcplan and work out of our Wayne, PA office. I'm originally from Jamaica but came to the US for college and I've been here ever since. I'm the voice behind a lot of arcplan's videos on YouTube - check them out here:
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