Posted: 08 Jun. 2020 8 min. read

How to build insights remotely

As businesses adapt to most of their workforce working from home, and as workers adjust to this ‘new normal’, having highly productive virtual teams has never been more important. Ensuring teams can collaborate and continue to leverage data and analytics for their organisation is crucial.

So, how can organisations enable their teams to build insights remotely? Creating a clear strategy, by following a few key principles, will allow organisations to more effectively and successfully deliver insights virtually. It will also have implications for your overall data transformation. What’s critical in this is that the right people are in place, with the right skills, reinforced by the right organisational culture, processes, and tools.

Creating a clear analytics strategy: Key principles to keep in mind

A virtual culture

In times of disruption, and when teams are physically separated, alignment becomes very important. If you lead multiple teams who all work remotely, it is vital that everyone is united by an overall strategy and understands the main priorities of the team. Leaders need to communicate purpose, clarifying the ‘why’, so their workers remain engaged.

Also, having a routine is helpful as it brings a sense of normality. Schedule weekly meetings to discuss progress and future plans, as well as shorter daily stand ups to go through activities from the day before and address any blockers.

Creating a virtual culture may not be at the top of a leader’s to-do list when looking to build insights remotely, however, understanding the importance of having teams who are aligned to your strategy and what you are trying to achieve, is the first step in being able to effectively leverage analytics within your organisation.

What’s worked well for us and with our clients? Top tips to takeaway:

  • Weekly ‘open connect sessions’ with the business area lead where team members can ask questions about anything on their mind
  • Implementing a buddy system to give team members extra support
  • Scheduling 1-2-1 calls with your team members for weekly or bi-weekly check ins
  • Setting up different ways to communicate, particularly about non-work topics i.e. a team WhatsApp group to share social updates and feel more connected
  • Team quiz’s or ‘tea breaks’ to encourage team bonding and social moments which would usually happen in and office, or during after work socials.

A 'Purple Team’

Being able to blend business and technical skills is critical for an organisation’s analytics capability. At Deloitte, we recommend creating a “Purple Team” for each analytics project we embark on, to ensure there is an ecosystem of talent with the right balance of skill sets.

This is even more important now, as many countries have been in lockdown and are still experiencing social distancing and working from home. Having a team who can understand the business needs of a project, as well as having strong technical abilities, will help projects flourish – particularly when workers may be feeling disconnected from their team members and their organisation. Being able to see the bigger picture of a project or task will help productivity, understanding how their role is important and how they are contributing to the business.

Access to documents and shared services

If you are working on analysis of any kind, you have to make sure you can connect to the data you need, no matter your location. Single sign-on protocols and enriched authentication (via an app on your phone or a specialised VPN key) may be necessary to access this, and will help secure your data. By utilising Cloud base services, team members are able to share and collaborate across the breath of a solution including data sources, compute resources, SaaS component, etc. This could either be in a Sandbox environment to encourage exploration and prototyping or a controlled/restricted environment which enforces alignment with client approved services and architecture guidelines.

The productivity tools available in the market make virtual collaboration and communication much easier. If you are collaborating remotely via Confluence, Microsoft Teams, or another platform, make sure you are aware of who has the keys to give everyone (you, your team and external collaborators) access to the documents and folders needed to do your job. Workforce tools and white boarding tools like Jira, Trello or Mural are keys not just for project management and communication, but can also help you collaborate at distance with teams all over the world.

How to develop your analytics strategy

We’ve discussed the importance of having a clear strategy in place, it is essential for any project but can be challenging to define. The way we work with a client to help define their analytics strategy is a good starting point for any organisation. We run ‘IDO Scaling Labs’ (Insight Driven Organisation Labs), which assess the kind of organisation you want to be, which capabilities and fundamental building blocks are required, and how to structure the way forward.

Here is our IDO Labs Landscape which can be insightful when trying to understand how to define your analytics strategy:

Why is this important?

In Deloitte’s IDO Survey, we discuss the 5 key stages against which an organisation can assess its current analytical competencies. Organisations with a poorly defined analytics strategy are 'analytically impaired' and are less developed along the insights maturity curve. Our IDO survey revealed a correlation between organisations further along the AI and analytics maturity curve, and those who have met, exceeded or significantly exceeded their corporate goals. Among the 39% of companies in the survey who had the strongest analytics culture, 48% significantly exceeded their business goals in the last 12 months, making them twice as likely to do so compared to the 61% who did not have a strong analytics culture.

What’s worked well with us and our clients? Top tip to takeaway: Culture is extremely important, but needs to be considered within the scope of wider transformation, otherwise an organisation is at risk of creating disconnected siloed analytics tools, without a jointed up data environment. Defining an overall analytics strategy and implementation vision, and then segmenting the work into bitesize pieces and quick wins, will help to bring the organisation along on the journey with you, whilst also building the broader analytics foundations needed to be a truly insight driven organisation.

When building insights remotely there are ‘bigger picture’ considerations, such as creating an analytics culture, having a clear strategy in place, new ways of working using tools to leverage the capabilities of your people, and having the right workers in place to deliver on your strategy. All of these areas will enable you to build insights remotely, and will help you along your broader transformation journey.

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