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Foster an Analytics Culture: It's More Critical to Success Than you Think

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June 01, 2014
Big Data
Samuel Ayisi - samuel.ayisi@nyansapor.com

You’ve acquired the latest analytics technology, gathered an ocean of data, and analyzed the heck out of it. Yet, you haven't significantly improved anything. Does this sounds familiar?

A successful analytics initiative is much more than gathering and crunching data, highlighting trends in fancy charts or acquiring the latest technology. Of critical importance is the human element that is needed to actually transform the resulting insights into smarter decisions and valuable transformative actions. Making this human element relevant requires a corporate culture that supports and facilitates evidence-based decisions. Simply layering technological solutions on top of a nonconducive culture and existing processes may prevent your hospitality business from realizing the full potential of your analytics investments.

The insights obtained from your analytics do not necessarily solve your business challenges, but they provide guidance for the decisions you make. An analytics culture helps you optimize this guidance when making decisions.

Leadership Commitment
A culture conducive to evidence-based decisions starts from the top with leaders who not only demonstrate a commitment to the use of analytics, but also strive to create an open, transparent and collaborative culture. This commitment compels leaders in the C-suite and middle ranks to take responsibility for creating an analytics culture by demanding that all decisions be supported by evidence rather than intuition or conventional wisdom. The commitment is also manifested in the example these leaders set by using analytics in their own decision-making and demonstrating confidence in these fact-based decisions.

As a leader, your strategic vision should emphasize the role of fact-based decisions in the achievement of corporate and departmental goals. This vision, when effectively communicated, ensures that the perception of the role of evidence-based decision-making is the same at every level within your hospitality business. Analytics must be seen as a mechanism to help people learn more about their data to improve performance and support decisions, rather than being used for finger-pointing or in a blame game. When your entire staff understands the benefits of analytics, it becomes easier to embed an analytics mindset and get them to buy in.

Collaborative Environment
Collaborative working environments encourage staff to willingly share analytics insights with people who might even be in other departments. However, the numerous organizational silos that naturally develop within businesses can prevent this sort of collaboration. To counter the effects of such silos, you should strive to put processes in place that facilitate people from all parts of your organization to work together in a cross-functional manner for the common good. Such collaborative partnerships not only provide a powerful way of showing how the perceived silos require each other to succeed, they also help functions/units see each other as strategic partners rather than the other guys. 

Recognizing and celebrating success stories related to the collaborative use of analytics can help encourage collaboration and change attitudes in favor of an analytics culture. Because such successes provide a clear demonstration of the value and benefits of evidence-based decision-making, your staff may become more enthusiastic about adopting an analytics approach.

The Right People
One of the keys to a sustainable analytics culture is having the right people. The right people could be an appropriate mix of your current staff, new hires and consultants. An evaluation of your internal staff could help identify those who need analytics training as well as those who require help with applying their analytics skills to daily work. Keep in mind that evaluating your available talent is as important as hiring valuable talent. Using instructional training sessions and self-help knowledge-sharing programs, your staff can be trained to understand their data and how to use it in decision-making. Lastly, adequate steps should be taken at a strategic level to retain your top analytics talent.

User-friendly Analytics Tools
Even though placing too much emphasis on analytics tools can be a misguided approach, offering user-friendly tools for analytics is vital. If the available tools make it cumbersome to either perform or consume analytics, most people would be deterred. Your analytics tools do not need to be fancy and/or complicated. A simple spreadsheet could be as effective as a sophisticated analytics application. The emphasis here is for people to be able to easily digest the analytics provided, conduct further analysis if necessary, and subsequently make smarter decisions based on the analytics. Don’t try to make your analytics more complicated than it needs to be.

Adopting an analytics culture is vital to success. As you embed analytics in business processes and demand evidence-based business discussions and decision-making, it is critical to ensure that the entire organization shares this strategic vision. Most importantly, leaders should make analytics fundamental to day-to-day business management.
Fostering an analytics culture is not a quick and easy thing to do, and there is no single path to success. However, the adoption of best practices and perseverance can help you succeed. Always remember to continuously improve on the right mix of investments in people, processes and technology.

Samuel Ayisi is the head of analytics with Nyanspor Analytics. He can be reached at samuel.ayisi@nyansapor.com.

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