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The Decision Factor offers insightful comments and observations on analytics—from views on new technology approaches and market dynamics to the latest industry trends driving demand for faster, smarter information analysis. This blog contains personal views, thoughts, and opinions from SAP employees, mentors, and friends working in the area of analytics. It’s not endorsed by SAP nor does it constitute an official communication of SAP.

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How to Get from Data to Decision — Deliver the Right Information to the Right People

How to Get from Data to Decision -- Deliver the Right Information to the Right PeopleIn the first two blogs of this series, we discussed the three key activities to drive value through analytics—gaining control of your data, delivering the right information to the right people, and enabling real time and predictive analysis. Today, I want to delve deeper into the second activity.

It’s not enough for an organization to simply have consistent data. It also must agree on how to use and deliver that data – preferably at a company-wide level. Without this agreement, it’s difficult to link strategic objectives with tactical actions such as divisional planning, budgeting, and reporting.

To realize the benefit of your updated architecture, you need to choose an information framework to structure and prioritize your data:

  • Start by understanding your company’s standard information needs on a daily, monthly, or quarterly basis. Match the time horizon of your analysis to the temporal nature of your data.
  • Select a framework that allows you to focus on the key performance indicators that matter most to your business. There are many standard pre-defined data frameworks based on industry, business role, or user. The key is to be consistent across the organization so that the business can more easily examine performance and make decisions in a unified way.
  • Ensure that the design of your decision-making processes (including analytics content, navigation, alerts, and decision flows) align and drive to the outcomes that are important to the company. Most companies value results more highly than elegant processes.
  • Consider your framework both from a top-down and a bottom-up perspective. This can help ensure that you don’t inundate decision makers with excessive or unnecessary metrics.

A consistent information framework is critical to providing transparency across organizational silos and hierarchies.

Access Actionable Information

Everyone in your organization should have timely information to create actionable insights, not just a few select individuals or a particular department. The proliferation of mobile devices and ability to harness large volumes of data make this an imperative. Business users need easy-to-use operational information to manage their day-to-day responsibilities.

The following principles can help you deliver the necessary information in the most appropriate format:

  • Provide role-appropriate access to your information. The information available at each level should be actionable at that level and connected to overall company goals in a transparent way. Ensure that your standard metrics for performance management are readily accessible. This type of relevance and easy access promotes user interest and engagement with the data you present.
  • Make information available in a visually appealing and easy to use format. Dashboards, with the ability to drill into detail, are a highly effective way to present user-relevant and actionable insights. The visual layout and navigation can be customized to reflect priority metrics and decision flows specific for the user, business, or industry.
  • Use real-time delivery of information to enable rapid response to issues and to optimize business performance. Alerts can inform users of anomalies that require immediate action. Trend analysis identifies opportunities for innovation, resource reallocation, or strategic redirection.
  • Allow users to create their own analytics in a self-service manner and make those analyses available to appropriate parts of the organization. Enable your information workers to be creative and social with their analysis.

Providing information that supports the strategic goals of the company—in formats and with devices that allow business users to easily analyze this information and share their ideas—can have a critical impact on organizational performance.

Is your company succeeding at delivering the right information to the right people?

Next week, I’ll discuss How to Get from Data to Decision—Enabling Real Time and Predictive Analysis. Stay tuned!

For more on this subject, read, How to Get from Data to Decision—Leverage “Big Data” Analytics to Thrive in Changing Times, and How to Get from Data to Decision—Gain Control over your Data.