“True analytic businesses are concerned with more than just transaction data.” That’s according to Gartner research director Lisa Kart, who says that organizations most successful with Big Data and analytics are those that connect the data they already have in order to realize the greatest business insights.

For example, getting a cross-channel view of your customer means digging deeper, connecting the data silos, and transforming them into consumable information, the article states.

In many organizations, the first barrier to analytics is the lack of direction in data collection, according to Kart. But even if they know where the data resides, they really don’t know what to do with it.

As a result, data ends up collected, processed, stored in silos and never used. It becomes “dark data,” Kart notes. The problem persists—there is no synergy between data strategies and business needs.

Gartner identifies four types of business analytics that can be applied to generate the insights necessary to enable organizations to operate more efficiently. These types of analytics are:

  1. Descriptive (what happened?)
  2. Diagnostic (why did it happen?)
  3. Predictive (what will happen?)
  4. Prescriptive (how can we make it happen?)

“Think of them as your analytics portfolio,” Kart says.

However, for insights to be meaningful, companies first need to have a very clear understanding of their business goals—or what they’re trying to accomplish, i.e., improve marketing, lower risk, make operational changes, or increase revenue.

By 2020, 50 percent of organizations will “actively measure and assess return on analytics initiatives,” so it will be to the company’s advantage to know precisely what it’s measuring, according to Gartner.

Kart says it’s time for organizations to move “from using business analytics to being an analytics business.”

Here are a couple examples of businesses that are heeding that advice:

Coca-Cola is “squeezing every drop of data” to ensure consistency in its Minute Maid orange juice. The company discovered there were inconsistencies in the juice based on the specific variety of oranges, where the oranges were harvested, and when they were harvested (which season).

“Using satellite images, weather patterns, expected crop yields, and even variables in flavor such as acidity and sweetness, Coca-Cola was able to fine-tune their formula to such a point that they could respond to changes within 5-10 minutes of a hurricane or frost,” according to Gartner.

In another example, fashion brand Burberry is using customer purchase data as well as data from surveys and social media to identify and greet their customers when they walk into one of the company’s stores.

The result: a high-touch retail experience that offers customers greater intimacy and more personal interactions.

“Analytics can help drive business forward, but it’s up to the individual to use the available data to create new business opportunities,” Gartner notes. “Putting data in the hands of all employees allows innovation to occur.”

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