Posted on: September 15, 2015

There’s a lot of emphasis placed on combing through piles of potentially invaluable data that is housed within today’s enterprises. Unfortunately, with the focus being on data analysis, it’s easy for businesses to lose sight of what’s really important: turning these discoveries into valuable actions. No matter how interesting and compelling the insights from data analysis may be, they aren’t worth much of anything until they are converted into some kind of business value. This requires IT professionals to fine-tune the process of detecting important trends, building new products, adjusting business processes, decreasing the time involved with the analytical last mile, and taking action to further streamline the entire process going forward.

The Insights Pipeline

An “insights pipeline” can be viewed as a sort of flowchart that encompasses the journey from a broad business goal or question to a valuable and specific business insight. In other words, it converts successful open-ended data explorations into closed loop dashboards.In order to fully understand this concept, let’s take a closer look at both.

Open-ended exploration refers to queries that don’t include deadlines or specific expectations. These might include questions like: Why are we losing customers from the Canadian market? Or, how can we increase our revenue from iOS users? Generally, these types of explorations are used as a means of uncovering important business insights, but without knowing what shape these insights will take on at the beginning of the research process. It is serendipitous in nature. At the same time, without specific guidance, a data analyst could become overrun with low-value or worthless information.

Closed-loop exploration is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Here, the research is much more refined and focused on a specific business function or question. An analyst might mine data for any customers that spend more than $100 per day with an online business and then flag these customers as “VIPs” to receive special offers. All ambiguity is removed from the query. Of course, this kind of specificity can significantly limit results, leading to “insights staleness”. Information included in these queries can also become dated.

A healthy insights pipeline will understand the benefits of both open and closed-loop analysis as well as their individual setbacks. This level of awareness makes it possible to begin with a broad query whose insights can be funneled into a specific action that will improve business functions. It also enables data scientists to continuously return to the model in order to evaluate and reform questions to plug back into both open and closed-ended explorations. This keeps insights fresh and current for profitable decision making.

The Analytical Last Mile

The “analytical last mile” is a representation of both the time and effort expended to utilize analytics insights in such a way that they actually improve the state of a business. Ideally, the least amount of time should lapse between when information is collected & analyzed and when it is handed over to decision makers who execute a workable course of action. This means that your business must not only be focused on setting up a successful insights pipeline, but also for maintaining accountability in the decision-making process. This, after all, is where data insights go from being just theories to becoming a practical business solution.

There’s no question as to why big data analysis has become so “buzzworthy”. This incredibly powerful tool can dramatically improve user experiences while boosting the bottom line. It’s imperative, though, that business stakeholders really have a firm handle on the process. Having the ability to think through the right considerations and make quick, deliberate, and insightful actions to further the business are both necessary for success. Otherwise you’re just left with data and no game-changing decisions.

If you’d like more information on this subject or want to understand how Uncommon Solutions can help you realize your business technology goals, contact one of our professionals today.