Leading the Way: Analytics aren’t fun, but definitely necessary

April 1, 2014 | 1:36 am

Letís face it ó there is nothing sexy about analytics.

However, fewer things are as valuable for an organizationís success then putting measurement systems in place, regularly analyzing the data and committing to data-driven solutions. Analytics are a fundamental and necessary component to establish business efficiencies and strategic success.

Thereís an old saying, ďMeasure twice, and cut once,Ē and a corollary to this might be ďItís less expensive to do things right the first time than it is to correct mistakes from shortcuts or shoddy work.Ē

These simple sayings, when embraced into business practices, can have a positive impact on an organization.

I was reminded of this when Todd Reding, chief marketing officer with Des Moines-based Spindustry Digital, guest-lectured for an entrepreneurial class at the University of Iowa. To make his point about the power of measurements, he reviewed the Google Analytics for Woofables.com, a business I co-own with my spouse.

Itís embarrassing to report that this was only the third time Iíve looked over the analytics and weíve had the site up for nearly two years.

Toddís demonstration reinforced the importance of analysis. He empirically identified neglected opportunities and low hanging fruit.

The students got the lesson, and I got the message. How about you?

Start with benchmark numbers and measurements. These benchmarks might be industry standards or your own best practices.

Benchmarks are important because they put measured results into context and help identify successes and opportunities.

But remember, benchmarks and measurements are worthless if you donít invest the time to regularly review the data, and then use the results to strategically plan and lead business improvement efforts.

This segues into the corollary (see above): Itís worth the upfront expense to act quickly, donít take short cuts to save money and donít accept shoddy work. Do things right the first time.

I once worked for a privately held, national leader in consumer and commercial printing. The owner stubbornly ignored ó resisted ó data and trends to digitize his print operations.

Unfortunately he suffered paralysis by analysis as well as lacked commitment to invest in data driven solutions.

As a result, the business lost market share that may never be regained, and his organization faces costly infrastructure and capital investment needs to come close to achieving industry benchmarks.

So now, try it for yourself and see. Identify a few critical metrics, put systems in place to measure results, then regularly review these results for the next six months.

Be disciplined and see what happens.

Data-driven solutions are usually self-validating. Actions without data, indecisiveness, short cuts and shoddy work most likely willappear in your analytics, and ultimately in your financials.

So put measurements in place; regularly review, analyze and validate results; and then make the commitment to embrace data-driven solutions to strategically tackle opportunities as they become evident.

Analytics arenít sexy, but they are effective when thoughtfully put to use.

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