HiTech IT and Tech
Analytics as competitive advantage: Demystifying the maze!
04 Jun 2017

We generate a lot of data. I need to use Big data to become future-ready. But how?

We need to undergo a Digital transformation. What does it mean? Where do we start?

We want to take ‘One view of the customer’. Is it possible without a lot of technology investments?

Is it time for us to go online? Should we move everything online?

We are an industrial B2B company. How can Digital help us? How is it different than IT and MIS systems we already have?

These are just a few of the questions teams at Praxis hear from companies and prospective clients frequently. All fair questions. But what amazes me is the level of confusion and lack of clarity in the minds of mid-level and even senior executives.

One CEO recently told us, “We invested heavily in our IT systems just 3 years back. Should we think of next wave of Digital investments even before we have realized the ROI from the previous investments?” Again, a fair question.

Another CIO I spoke with is still debating on his role in the journey of going Digital. He felt that they would engage an expensive management consultant to help chart the Digital Roadmap. So, what’s the issue?. “Well, shouldn’t I be the one leading this? But we have been told that the Digital wave is to be led by the business”

So, what’s going on?

At Praxis, we have spent a lot of time trying to demystifying the ‘D’ word and how organizations can weave this into their ‘Business-As-Usual’ rather than panic as if an E.T. just descended into their flowery garden.

First things first – let us disregard all jargon around Digital, and talk simple English. Yes, computing and storage are now cheap. Yes, customers, employees and everyone else is now mobile and connected. Yes, technology companies might disrupt you if you don’t act. All of this is true and given.

We look at the use of Analytics as core to the business in 3 ways (drawing inspiration from already known principles of ‘Strategic vision’).

  • Hindsight: Analytics and Big Data combined by mobile technology can now enable you to pull relevant information periodically and sometimes, in real-time. Getting the ‘right view’ of the ‘right data’ at the ‘right time’ can enable prudent and timely decision making. It can also enable some interesting ‘what-if’ analyses and ‘root cause analyses’ that were not possible through traditional MIS. Also, conventional systems typically used to just be data pulls and static reports that needed a lot of energy and time before they could be translated into action.

Ask what you need to know: “What do I need to know from the past transactions or interactions or behaviors to manage <the relevant stakeholder> better?”

  • Insight: One can use data creatively to now engineer never-seen-before value-added services to customers, dealers and employees. E.g. instead of just giving a report to a car dealer on how their sales numbers are, an auto OEM can even provide value-added tools to give dealer real-time control and support to help make the numbers. Or, instead of discounting a product uniformly across dealers, a company can identify more smartly which customer segment to offer discounts to, and whether to offer a cash discount or give away a freebie.

Ask what you can learn: “What patterns from past behaviors of stakeholders can we learn from to make the next transaction or interaction with <the relevant stakeholder> more delightful?”

  • Foresight: While past is not a predictor of the future, past mixed with a subjective business judgment can often yield valuable clues on what is coming next. In fact, sometimes, you can shape the future or maybe, avoid it. E.g. Praxis’ Attrition Defense(SM) toolkit can help flag individuals who might be at a higher risk of leaving. Or, footfall data from the past can forecast footfall in a retail store on the coming Sunday falling within a long weekend. And that can allow you to engineer promotions and even alter the staffing in the store accordingly.

Ask how you can be better prepared: “What can we infer from the past with a fair degree of causality so that the learnings can be applied in the future?”

The good news is that not everything in the organization needs to change to go Digital. Another good news is that you can go step-by-step. There are simple, methodical and patient ways to ‘transform your business to digital’ and we, at Praxis, harness the power of data science/advanced analytics to ignite the change.

The above blog has raised more questions than answered. We will publish three more blogs in this series, one on each of the above themes, shortly. Stay tuned.

Authored by (at the time of writing):

Aryaman Tandon, Leader, HiTech IT and Tech Practice

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