When reading about new technologies, innovations, news from business world or even people’s LinkedIn profiles, the term “data-driven” is on everyone’s lips. But what does it really mean and how can my company become data-driven?
Working as a Data and Analytics professional for several years, I have encountered the same problem all over again: “We have data and we know it’s important and analytics is the thing, but how?” Some might think that the proper way to move forward is to buy an analytics tool or do a project where a bunch of consults come in, develop a solution to one problem, and go away. Depending on the organization’s starting point, it usually needs more and involves more than just technology.
I started working at Veho, a leading Finnish automotive company, at the beginning of year 2018. My job is to make sure Veho becomes a company that benefits from internal analytics services and good quality data and also to ensure that Veho has the needed resources to do so. Exciting, but how to make this happen? I had just begun studies in Metropolia School of Applied Sciences to do my MBA in Business Informatics and this sounded like a challenge I could address when doing my master’s thesis.
Why maturity matters?
The main purpose of analytics is to get information out of data to help organizations to make better decisions and implement actions. Forbes conducted a study in 2017 and it showed that organizations which are at a leading level in data and analytics maturity grow more, make better profit and manage their risks better than the ones lacking in maturity. Maturity models for measuring an organization’s maturity have been around for some years. They are used especially in IT world, and data and analytics or big data maturity is no exception. As part of my thesis I studied IBM’s, Gartner’s and TDWI’s maturity models and they all share the same basic idea and purpose. They have different dimensions that are relevant when having a holistic view on data and analytics. Each of these dimensions has criteria that are linked to different stages. The organization’s current and desired states are mapped to suitable stages and there you go, a roadmap to analytics emerges.
As an outcome of the thesis process I created a framework suitable for Veho’s business culture. It combines indicators and criteria from existing models for the most relevant dimensions: vision and strategy, organization and people, technology, analytics, and data management. Without any one of these the organization will struggle with the change. I used the best practices and the existing models as a base to analyze the current state at Veho and to define a target state with relevant stakeholders. The final framework combines all into a five-level maturity model with current and target states and could be used as a compass for an upcoming organization wide data and analytics transformation program. The framework has been validated by relevant stakeholders and in practice by using it as part of the action planning process.
Cultural change ahead
What I have learned when doing the study is that if an organization wants to be data-driven and to utilize its data assets, all aspects of cultural change need to be involved. The business strategy and the leaders must support the change. Organizational structure and relevant roles such as analysts or data stewards are essential. Certain technological solutions are necessary to implement all types of analytics, and it all comes down to good quality data. A maturity model is a helpful tool for designing the path to the desired outcome. When studying the subject, it became obvious that many companies are struggling with the same issues, and to be able to compete in the challenging business world the journey needs to start now. It will be a long road, but I believe an exciting and rewarding one.
Development Manager, Data and Analytics
Veho Oy Ab
Forbes insights (2017). Data and advanced analytics: High stakes, high rewards. Forbes.
Kuula S. (2018). Developing Data and Analytics Maturity Framework to Support Business Transformation, Case: Veho Oy Ab. Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. Master’s Degree Programme in Business Informatics. Helsinki. http://www.theseus.fi/handle/10024/158853
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