The competitive environment of today’s economy is led by companies that have the best information and use it to their advantage.
Data and analytics are key components of that information, especially for digital operations. Businesses use these components to make informative decisions.
A research collaboration between Google and Econsultancy found that leading marketers are 1.3 times more likely to have a documented data and analytics strategy when compared with counterparts who didn’t exceed their top business goals.
Additionally, nearly two of three of these leading marketers said that the decisions they made with data were superior to ones made on gut instinct.
It’s clear that data and information are driving decisions that have a direct impact on business success.
Let’s take a closer look at what a data and analytics strategy is and how you can create a custom plan for your organization.
Defining Your Own Data and Analytics Strategy
You’re the steward of your business and understand it better than anybody. A culmination of data resources can help you develop a customized strategy that is tailored to your current production and future expectations.
What should go into that plan and how do you create it? While each company will take their own approach, there is a certain structure that every data and analytics strategy should follow. It can generally be broken down into three categories:
- Evaluation & Definition
- Plan of Action
- Plan Implementation & Re-evaluation
Evaluation & Definition
This is the opening stage of your strategy development where you will review current practices and determine what’s working and what isn’t. More importantly, this is the stage where you will align your business interests with the tools at your disposal.
A partnership between the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) and the U.S. Government-run Digital.gov does an excellent job explaining this phase, which they call “Assessment.”
The steps in this portion of the process can be used by nearly any company:
- Define your analytics strategy aligning organizational mission, goals, and key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Assess the different data sources and tracking methods available to your organization. You’ll use these to determine which metrics matter the most. If you have a lack of data tracking resources, this would be the time to invest.
- Test each metric with a real-world example that is specific to supporting your goals. This can be used to answer overarching questions of why your site exists and how you define success.
These benchmarks in the Evaluation & Definition phase will help you correctly prepare for analytical insights later on in the process. They will be used to make business decisions that directly impact your operations.
Plan of Action
Next, you’ll create a roadmap that will be set up to earn results. The organization of your data, analytics and solutions are critical to your strategy. Thomas C. Redman, President of Data Quality Solutions, writes in the Harvard Business Review that to achieve success, “companies need data, properly defined, relevant to the tasks at hand, structured such that it is easy to find and understand, and of high-enough quality that it can be trusted.”
He also writes that data planning requires the right people to use data effectively, an organizational structure and culture that values data, technologies delivered at scale and low cost, and defense that minimizes risk.
Your plan of action should be developed with those characteristics and others at the forefront. Here are some of the main steps:
- Assemble your strategy team with individuals who truly understand the data and can tell you what it means. Equally important are the folks who can turn your analytics into quantifiable solutions. Above all, your strategy team needs to be comprised of people who buy in to the purpose of the strategy. They will help you relay the importance to the rest of the company.
- Develop your data and analytics checklist, which is the bread and butter of your plan of action. Include the following and more:
- Sources: Gather in-house and external data sources that could be beneficial to your strategy.
- Data themes: Determine themes within your data as they relate to your strategy goals.
- Technological infrastructure requirements: Develop an understanding of how your strategy will impact your current or future technology. This includes software and hardware, but also the support functionality and integration that is necessary to handle changes.
- Data governance: This is the oversight of data and its influence on your company. Governance includes how data and analytics are managed, who has access, how the strategy evolves and when it should be refreshed.
- Workforce: Develop a plan for staffing based on your strategy. This isn’t just a time sheet of who will be working, it is the monitoring of the processes they use, goals, growth, challenges and more.
- Create a template that can be used as a layout for your strategy plan time and time again (yes, the process should be repeated!). Bernard Marr & Co., a strategy and business consultant, devised a handy template that aligns use cases with cross-cutting goals to prioritize which projects should be used within your strategy.
Special note: Consider the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on your business and how it will affect the future. The IT business technology experts at InformationWeek explain that you should consider the impact on predictive analytics. Additionally, data patterns have changed. Outside datasets are also vital to success, and the amount and/or reliability of data used by many companies is not enough.
Plan Implementation & Re-Evaluation
It’s unlikely that your multi-step strategy will be put in place overnight, and it will take a little time to see the benefits. Include a timeline within your strategy template and roll-out each segment slowly and accurately.
A large part of your plan implementation deals with informed decisions, a concept mentioned earlier in the article. As part of the data governance process, an executive or team of administrators will use the data and analytics within the strategy to push certain business initiatives that are predicted to achieve success.
Ensure you set up a comprehensive reporting process to see how those decisions fare on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. These results will be used to re-evaluate your strategy and create new plans.
While every company is different, it’s best to at least re-examine the strategy as a whole every six months to a year after full implementation.
Your data and analytics strategy should drive your business decisions and a partnership with experts in digital advancement can help. The Digital Marketing team and our knowledgeable Digital Strategists at Americaneagle.com will work with you to create a data-driven plan that defines your brand success. Our experts are ready to assist you with a strategy that boosts your return on investment (ROI) and enhances your processes. Contact us today to discuss your goals for digital acceleration.