Recommendation 3: Embed Insights to Drive Actions and Deliver Value

This is part 5 of 11 from “Analytics: The New Path to Value,” a report on the findings of the 2010 New Intelligent Enterprise Global Executive Study and Research Project.

< New methods and tools to embed information into business processes — use cases, analytics solutions, optimization, work flows and simulations — are making insights more understandable and actionable. Respondents identified trend analysis, forecasting and standardized reporting as the most important tools they use today. However, they also identified tools that will have greater value in 24 months. The downswings in “as-is” methods accompanied by corresponding upswings in “to-be” methods were dramatic. (see Figure 8.)

Figure 8

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Today’s staples are expected to be surpassed in the next 24 months by:

  1. Data visualization, such as dashboards and scorecards
  2. Simulations and scenario development
  3. Analytics applied within business processes
  4. Advanced statistical techniques, such as regression analysis, discrete choice modeling and mathematical optimization.

Organizations expect the value from these emerging techniques to soar, making it possible for data-driven insights to be used at all levels of the organization. Innovative uses of this type of information layering will continue to grow as a means to help individuals across the organization consume and act upon insights derived through complex analytics that would otherwise be hard to piece together. For example, GPS-enabled navigation devices can superimpose real-time traffic patterns and alerts onto navigation maps and suggest the best routes to drivers.

Similarly, in oil exploration, three-dimensional renderings combine data from sensors in the field with collaborative and analytical resources accessible across the enterprise. Production engineers can incorporate geological, production and pipeline information into their drilling decisions.

Beyond 3D, animated maps and charts can simulate critical changes in distribution flow, or projected changes in consumption and resource availability. In the emerging area of analytics for unstructured data, patterns can be visualized through verbal maps that pictorially represent word frequency, allowing marketers to see how their brands are perceived.

New techniques and approaches transform insights into actions New techniques to embed insights will gain in value by generating results that can be readily understood and acted upon:

  • Dashboards that now reflect actual last quarter sales will also show what sales could be next quarter under a variety of different conditions — a new media mix, a price change, a larger sales team, even a major weather or sporting event.
  • Simulations evaluating alternative scenarios will automatically recommend optimal approaches — such as which is the best media mix to introduce a specific product to a particular segment, or what is the ideal number of sales professionals to assign to a particular new territory.
  • Use cases will illustrate how to embed insights into business applications and processes. For the direct-channel to agent-channel migration illustrated in Figure 5, automated work flows include initial communication with prospective insurance policyholders, timed to take place before leads are sent to the agent. (See Figure 5, Introducing the PADIE Technique for Operationalizing Analytics.) In that way, permission is secured before the agent makes a call, helping to ensure a smooth channel transition and a superior customer experience.

New methods will also make it possible for decision makers more fully to see their customers’ purchases, payments and interactions. Businesses will be able to listen to customers’ unique wants and needs about channel and product preferences. In fact, making customers, as well as information, come to life within complex organizational systems may well become the biggest benefit of making data-driven insights real to those who need to use them.

IBM CASE STUDY: A Beverage Company Makes the Case »