Analytics in 2017
Private company issues and opportunities
A universe of sensors can offer up-to-the-minute reports on the temperature, a personal activity, or the exact coordinates of an online order. The digital platforms providing that information “talk” to one another, forming a vast network known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Those conversations, in turn, become a massive supply of details from which organizations can analyze customers, employees or partners.
The proliferation of sensors has accelerated the power of data analytics, turning this class of technologies into an increasingly attainable means of translating information into insight. Private companies stand to gain from these developments as analytics technology becomes more accessible and as web-based interactions become more plentiful. Consider, for instance, the more than 4.1 million people “liking” a Facebook post at the same minute every day and the inferences organizations can make by studying such behavior.1 Rajeev Ronanki, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and leader of Deloitte’s cognitive computing practice, says while many firms still see challenges in adopting analytics in meaningful ways, it’s generally getting easier to crack the code. “In the next few years, we’ll likely start to see analytics used more effectively,” Ronanki says. The technology has moved beyond an “emerging” concern, he says, to the current reality of “harnessing the information.”
Private and mid-sized companies can apply analytics across a number of functions, such as human resources, to help add data-driven perspective to their operations. One of the most critical matters organizations should keep in mind is the initial investment in infrastructure to build out such technical capabilities, Ronanki says. Companies need to know how much data they intend to store and collect. There are specific algorithms and software licenses that may be needed to yield certain types of data. Further, there are interfaces and apps that should be developed and adapted for company-specific purposes, such as mobile user data, Ronanki says.
For finance, healthcare and life sciences, and other regulated industries, both the collection and analysis of data may be subject to reporting requirements that companies must also follow. Meeting compliance standards is likely to become a bigger task for companies as information is produced and shared across a growing number of channels, according to Ronanki: “If you’re using personal health sensors, prescribing certain actions, you’ll need to consider which way the regulatory framework can be applied.”
Private company leaders who intend to make investments in analytics will be doing so in an environment where the cost of storage and acquisition of data has dropped considerably. Prices for hardware components, improved management tools and enhancements in the handling of data sets have helped bring data storage costs down up to 20 percent in recent years.2
Open-source software and crowdsourcing can also provide paths for growth-minded companies that wish to make use of analytics. Ronanki offers a hypothetical: a company needs to run a regression analysis to determine relationships among a few variables but doesn’t have an expansive team of engineers to carry out the assignment. Instead, a core group can manage such a project by utilizing open-source solutions. “You don’t have to write the algorithm from scratch. You harness the open source models that are already out there,” Ronanki says.
Another example of analytics and crowdsourcing at work: a manufacturer with hundreds of vendors wants a clearer view of the supply chain. Rather than deploying a team, the company could crowdsource the task to find a team to handle the job. “We’ve got this data, and now we can turn it into a dashboard that helps a CEO decide on the most effective solution,” Ronanki says. “It’s all being democratized, so you can make small, strategic bets.”
Questions to consider
- What can you do to create competencies in analytics within your company?
- As a leader, how do you educate yourself further in analytics and continue to keep up with developments within the technology?
- What actions should you be taking to ensure you are taking advantage of the possibilities of analytics to avoid getting disrupted in the marketplace?
- Are there areas involved with running your business where open-source software and crowdfunding could help you make sense of the data you’re collecting?