Recommendation 5: Use an Information Agenda to Plan for the Future

Big data is getting bigger. Information is coming from instrumented, interconnected supply chains transmitting real-time data about fluctuations in everything from market demand to the weather. Additionally, strategic information has started arriving through unstructured digital channels: social media, smart phone applications and an ever-increasing stream of emerging Internet-based gadgets. It’s no wonder six out of 10 respondents said the organization has more data than it knows how to use effectively.

All this data must be molded into an information foundation that is integrated, consistent and trustworthy, which were the leading data priorities cited by our respondents. Every phase of implementation needs to align the data foundation to an overall information agenda. The information agenda accelerates the organization’s ability to share and deliver trusted information across all applications and processes. It sets up information to serve as a strategic asset for the organization. (see Figure 10.)

Figure 10

View Exhibit

The information agenda identifies foundational information practices and tools while aligning IT and business goals through enterprise information plans and financially justified deployment road maps. This agenda helps establish necessary links between those who drive the priorities of the organization by line of business and set the strategy, and those who manage data and information.

A comprehensive agenda also enables analytics to keep pace with changing business goals. An executive at one company, for example, told us it "had it down to a science” when it came to understanding the impact of price changes on single products and single channels. But the company was blindsided when it shifted to a customer-centric strategy, restructuring around bundled products and dynamic pricing across channels. Because its data marts had been developed de facto over time, the company found itself struggling to understand which tools and information were needed to go forward.

Lastly, building the analytic foundation under the guidance of a forward-looking information agenda enables organizations to keep pace with advances in mathematical sciences and technology. Without an enterprise-wide information agenda, units are likely to explore these new developments independently and adopt them inconsistently, a difficult path for gaining full business benefits from analytics.