Businesses can use a franchise model that promotes global consistency to scale the impact of a centralized data analytics team throughout an organization.
Analytics applied to the vast amount of data available today can potentially change the way businesses operate and deliver great value to organizations. Unfortunately, most organizations are having trouble realizing these benefits.
How to address this issue was the focus of the opening keynote address, “Lead for Purpose. Connect With Trust. Make an Impact,” at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit.
In that keynote, Rita Sallam, a Distinguished VP Analyst and Gartner Fellow in the Data and Analytics team, and Kurt Schlegel, a Research Vice President at Gartner, talked about the data and analytics challenges organizations face today and suggested some ways to overcome them.
They first put the scope of the problem into perspective. They noted that two-thirds of data and analytics leaders still struggle to deliver measurable Return on Investment. That stat comes from the Gartner Chief Data Officer Agenda Survey for 2023. The survey also found that skills and staff shortages are the top roadblock to success for data and analytics initiatives. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed cited that as a reason their organizations were having difficulties realizing the full value data and analytics projects theoretically can deliver.
An analytics impact that goes beyond dollars and cents
A successful data and analytics effort can do much more than deliver monetary benefits. Sallam noted the work being done by Dr. Brita Andercheck, Chief Data Officer for the City of Dallas.
“One of my very first assignments at the City of Dallas was to work on crash data,” said Andercheck. The City of Dallas wanted to reduce the number of fatalities, severe injuries, and accidents. “It’s easy to not be concerned about a traffic accident, but the reality is that it can completely change someone’s life when their loved one doesn’t come home from work, the store, or school as expected.”
Her groups started looking at crashes in the city. Where were they happening? Was it a one-off situation, or were there patterns in the data? The group collaborated with traffic engineers and transportation planners to look at our areas of most concern and where they could make changes.
As a result, she noted that the City of Dallas has earned over $65 million in grants to make improvements at intersections where they knew they had a crash problem. “The incredible thing now is we’ve been doing this for enough years that we have before and after data, and we can actually see that fatal and severe injury crashes have gone down at those intersections,” she said.
It takes an organization
Schlegel commented, “that’s a great example of the impact we could all have with data and analytics.” He noted, “you may or may not work in an organization where the purpose of your work is so clear, but whatever your situation or role, identifying the true purpose of your work is the key to connecting with stakeholders, building trust, and making an impact but we know it’s not that easy.”
That is so important because most companies think technology is the most important thing when undertaking data and analytics efforts. Yet, he noted that of the top six challenges identified in the Gartner Chief Data Officer Agenda Survey for 2023, all were people related. They include skill shortages, lack of business engagement, lack of resources and funding, not enough authority, cultural changes to accept change, and poor data literacy throughout the organization.
The bottom line: technology alone is not enough for success.
Sallam noted that many business stakeholders still do not see the connection between what those involved with data and analytics do and what matters in their world. “Until we bridge the gap, we continue to risk all the hard work we do in data and technology programs, and that’s why it’s so important to lead with purpose in mind,” she said.
“We need a Rosetta Stone that clearly links and translates technical outcomes to business outcomes. The new Enterprise Value Equation is a new framework created by Gartner to develop a value story by addressing three of our most important and perennial challenges,” said Sallam.
First, it helps master the language of business. Specifically, the Gartner Enterprise Value Equation helps focus messaging on the specific benefits for specific stakeholders in the context of the overall business strategy. That will shift the focus from cost to value generation.
Second, the Gartner Enterprise Value Equation helps those working in the field build robust business cases instead of what is usually done, which is more of a belief case. And the third benefit is about articulating the long-term strategic value of data, not just short-term ROI.
A franchise model for data and analytics
To get buy-in, educating stakeholders who understand the value data and analytics can deliver is essential. So, what is the best way to spread a data-driven culture throughout your company? Schlegel suggested organizations consider using a data and analytic franchise model.
“Think about it; the franchise has proven itself repeatedly as the ideal business model to scale the sharing of best practices,” he said. “I mean, what is a franchise but a way to bring a globally consistent way of doing things to a local market.”
That is exactly what organizations need to do with data and analytics. “We can use the franchise metaphor as a way to scale the impact that our centralized data analytics team can have throughout the organization, said Schlegel. One of the things I really like about the franchise metaphor is that the franchise promotes global consistency. The global consistency that we need, consistency of data definitions, consistency of performance measures, consistency of technology standards, but while promoting that consistency, a franchise also accommodates, it accommodates regional variants, which we also need.”
And like the franchise model in other businesses, an organization can allow departments to sometimes define their own data definitions, calculate their own measures, and use their own technology.
“It’s this flexibility between global consistency and regional variance that’s the key to the acceptance of the franchise idea,” he said.
He noted that the best way to begin is to start with one or two departments that are getting it right. These are departments that are already making a big business impact with data and analytics.
“Start there, codify what they’re doing, and brand that as your data and analytics franchise, and then replicate this model department by department throughout your company,” he said.