Make Your Data Talk. Here’s How.

Every business owns and produces data, but many companies leave their data fallow when it comes to gaining organizational intelligence and setting directions. If you take advantage of your data assets to learn what you don’t know about your business, arm your employees with better decision-making tools, or help you identify opportunities in your market and industry, you can get ahead of the competition. If you are not yet putting your data to work, be aware that it doesn’t take a specialized and costly effort to get your data analytics competency started. There are really no good reasons to let your company languish instead of transforming information into intelligence.

Companies tend to undervalue their data

According to research findings, one person produces 49.8GB of IP traffic every month and an average human alive today generates 1.7MB of data every second. Most of that data is generated by a relatively small subset of people in the world’s developed, comparatively privileged zones. Many millions of people have only limited technology resources within their reach, and close to 40 percent of the global population doesn’t have access to the internet. Remarkably, only about 15 percent of all that data is original—the rest is data being copied, shared, forwarded, and repurposed.

Given those numbers, you would expect that data analytics and data science are top-of-mind priorities for any business that aims to grow and remain a viable, competitive pursuit. However, in 2016 it appeared that between 60 percent and 73 percent of data in enterprises was not subjected to analysis. More recently, in 2022, market research found that average companies analyze between 37 percent and 40 percent of their data, but at the same time, 97.2 percent of all businesses are investing in big data and artificial intelligence (AI).

Why AI and analytics efforts fail

Judging from those statistics, massive data volumes remain invisible. They don’t help any decision-makers gain certainty, nor do they inform business strategies or help companies get better at what they do. You can also see why a large portion of the data analytics projects and initiatives undertaken by the 97.2 percent that invest in AI and big data lack the context to yield meaningful results. According to Forbes, over 79 percent of AI projects produce a negative or zero ROI, and 80 percent of analytics initiatives don’t deliver any business value.

Forbes identifies an important reason for this low success rate: 81 percent of industry leaders don’t build a data-driven culture. Many companies don’t plan their AI and analytics efforts with the needs of business roles in mind, involve only a small portion of their entire user community, or allow certain business groups to pursue data analytics and AI initiatives on their own, without a vital connection to the organization’s goals and interests.

At Sikich, every day our consulting teams work with clients to translate their data assets into insight and strategic advantages, often using tools they already own or can easily access. When we see data analytics efforts that didn’t perform to expectations, it’s typically not difficult to understand why. Forbes is right by highlighting the lack of a data-driven business culture as an important shortcoming in many organizations.

Creating a business culture of data insight

Three focus areas are crucial when Sikich consultants work with you to get your data and analytics discipline underway:

Understanding your data assets.

Many businesses are not aware of the full breadth and depth of the data that lives in their systems. They usually own far more relevant, historical transactional data than they know. They tend to make very limited use of external data sources, such as social listening or industry performance benchmarks. While they produce data of various types every day, a large portion of it immediately comes to reside in a shadow realm where insight doesn’t reach.

The data used by executives and managers, for instance, to plan production to meet demand or drive R&D for new product or service capabilities, tends to be a small set of information picked from sources individuals know through their area of the business. They typically use spreadsheets to analyze and report on these tiny data samples. Many companies don’t organize their data with a view toward making it available for business analytics, but do only the minimum necessary to store and safeguard data against cybercrime or to meet regulatory mandates for audits and reporting.

Opening data and analytics opportunities.

When we work with clients to prepare a technology modernization, we can help them develop a data-driven business culture organically, without disrupting how people and processes work. We usually review their business processes and systems, along with their data landscape and data management. We make recommendations for improving business processes that could be simpler and more productive. We also help them shift their business practices toward empowering people in every position to use data to make sound decisions and deliver value to the organization. Technology leaders like Microsoft have paved the way to democratizing data analytics and enabling business users to gain data intelligence without having to request assistance from IT.

Cultivating data intelligence.

Once stakeholders see what they can accomplish with data generated by their ERP and CRM systems at every transaction, they become interested in the potential of their other data stores and sources. That opens the door to delivering role-based intelligence through dashboards, which are often the starting point of a major change in the business culture. Sikich helps clients explore, design, and build their data models so they can generate the kind of visualizations that deliver insights which are informative, intuitive, easy to use, and relevant. Armed with valuable insights, business users can become enthusiastic ambassadors for modern data analytics. That attitude of empowerment helps organizations evolve data-driven business cultures.

ERP is the start of your data and analytics journey

ERP, much like other systems that yield data, doesn’t fully deliver its value until you make sense of that data to drive better decision-making and imbue business roles with intelligence. At Sikich, we know how to broaden companies’ data analytics efforts to encompass their other systems and data stores without complicating users’ lives or adding workloads to IT.

Just like we always try to place major ERP and CRM projects in the context of business strategies and industry opportunities, we help clients expand their perspectives with data insight and ask wide-ranging, important questions to which they might not have previously been able to apply analytics. In many engagements, adding data analytics to the scope of a project requires many of the same steps that we already plan when we prepare an ERP deployment. For instance, in many organizations a successful ERP undertaking requires creating a unified data management strategy and an effective data model, overcoming the fragmentation and inconsistencies of disparate specialty and legacy systems. Those activities also prepare the ground for data analytics.

When projects comprise both ERP and data analytics, ERP deployments can continue to happen quickly and smoothly. But, with the added dimension of data analytics, they can help a company achieve better outcomes from their ERP system and other data sources. They can then use their data assets, translated into insight, to help innovate products and services, forecast and evaluate acquisitions, optimize the supply chain, and lots more.

Here to help

Sikich is ready to work with you to gain insight from data, no matter if you already implemented ERP with another technology partner, are considering a new ERP implementation or upgrade, or rely on other data sources. It is not too late for those organizations which have completed their rollout of new ERP and CRM technology without including the dimension of data and analytics. Sikich will meet you where you are and help you take that next step forward towards a data-centric culture. Contact the Sikich team.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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