Analytics for the Middle Guy

Are you a mid-market business executive and you are wondering how you are going to catch up with the big players who are using analytics to beat you in the market? The good news is that there is a way to catch up.

You probably do not have the budget to hire an analytics team yet alone one person who can build and deliver the analytics you feel that you need to compete. And there is no way that you can afford high-priced consultants to build a complex solution that you cannot support afterwards anyway.

So what to do? Answer – think differently.

You can likely build an analytics capability at 25% the cost of the traditional approach if you just start to think about solving the problem in a different way.

Here are the 5 steps to get in the analytics game without paying full price:

  1. Start with the end in mind. It’s what we call building Z to A – figure out the question that you are trying to answer and develop the best report or visualization in the form of Z. Get Z out to your audience as soon as possible, and then figure out how to build back to A. Let the proceeds from Z pay for Y, X, W …

  2. Don’t try to make it perfect. Perfection is the enemy of good. Be sure to inform your audience, but providing answers in the 90% range are often good enough to make educated decisions.

  3. Focus on your key levers. Not all data and information should be treated equally. As an executive team, agree on the few key levers that really make a difference in the company’s performance and focus on those.

  4. Leverage cloud technologies. Today’s cloud technologies provide on-demand data and computing; i.e. you only pay for what you use. This alone can take a huge chunk out of your typical IT infrastructure costs.

  5. Outsource your analytics. There are options today to actually outsource not only the mechanics of creating the visualizations but also the human factor of providing valuable insights that only a human can perform (at least right now). These options are cost effective because like cloud technologies, you only pay for the service at the frequency that you dictate. For example, you can hire outside help for only the last few days of the month to help analyze monthly results. iQuantiv provides this service to deliver enterprise-level analytics at a very affordable rate.

Easy right? Not so fast – this process still takes hard work and diligence to get it right. But do not feel paralyzed that you need a large budget to get started.

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