As an industry analyst and passionate data analyst, it continues to surprise me that companies’ separate strategy and analytics. For value to be generated from analytics, a behavior must be linked to the insights derived. Behaviors that aren’t measured are less likely to be completed, and objectives without a strategy are less likely to be achieved. Reviews of both strategy and analysis are needed to ensure what is being measured provides an accurate read on the behavior. Causation and correlation require continual learning and a deeper understanding of the data being used.
Business analytics need strategy and strategy needs analysis. Perhaps the most simplified application of this reality is SMART goals:
- Specific – Broad and generalized goals, like “attract more customers” are directionless and hinder focus.
- Measurable – What gets measure, gets done. Setting a goal that cannot be accurately measures prevents teams from seeing progress or knowing if behaviors are achieving the desired outcome.
- Actionable – Goals need to be based on something that the team has influence and control over. Watch out for trailing vs. leading indicators.
- Realistic – Be grounded in reality, some desired states aren’t attainable. Unreachable goals are demotivating
- Timely – Without specified time periods, there is no ability to prioritize nor a pressure for results.
A strategy that doesn’t have SMART goals limits an analyst’s ability to deliver insights related to progress against the strategy. Few analysts are skilled at both finding insight and pushing its communication through the organization. In this kind of scenario, often analysts are under-utilized and aren’t given the necessary platform for their insights to be leveraged in future decisions and actions.
Create and communicate SMART goals and foster the culture of analysis, questioning and learning. This is the foundation required for deep analytics and creating a data driven culture.
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Author: Madison McNair, RedPort Senior Industry Analyst