The years leading up to 2015 affirmed and reaffirmed that we indeed have lots of data. And with lots of data all around us, organizations should really be thinking about how to leverage data to get ahead not only of competition but to get ahead of everyday transactions and to be able to predict and control what's coming down the pike. Almost every transaction in society now is ‘datafied.' The automation and datafication of transactions and actions are giving us the opportunity to understand processes and things in measurable and predictable ways. But some companies are still behind in cultivating a culture of analytics within their organization so here's a simple framework to get rolling and essentially spark a cultural revolution within their organization.
There are 4 key stages that must happen in order to cultivate a culture of analytics and these can be summarized as 4C's: Collect, Connect, Correct, Control. The 4 C's of analytics can serve as a simple roadmap towards being able to advance your organization's analytics culture. For fans of mnemonics, '4Cs' is also in a fitting mnemonic format to help with adoption as well as to keep in mind the goal of being able to 'foresee' what's ahead.
The first C--COLLECT-- is usually the first stage for analytics. Most companies should be at least at the COLLECT level and some companies might not even know it but they could already be collecting data. Data collection is not easy for many companies but it is still possible for some companies to be lagging. With some of our automated and electronic systems, data collection sometimes just happens even without anybody knowing it. Transactions that are automated or in electronic format sometimes just have to be structured in order to make sense. Some data have to be actively collected such as employee surveys, competency data, etc. Hiring data, demographics, etc, which most companies should already be collecting anyway, are usually in format that lend themselves to be analyzable. But be careful, not all data being collected, however, are meaningful. Data for the sake of data can be junk so be careful in choosing and defining the metrics. And just because there's that 'big data' hype doesn't mean that it's all good and meaningful for you. Sometimes having too much data can cause analysis paralysis so before you collect data, you must first define what problem you need to solve. And don't forget to use unstructured data because these are data that you can collect and connect as well.
The next C--CONNECT--, comes once you have identified the data you are collecting. Data that you have collected can now be analyzed and 'connected' by doing some very basic statistics. Some basic descriptive statistics should be a good place to start. Do some basic head counts, slice it and dice that data in ways that are meaningful to you or your stakeholders. And then, go beyond the first slice of data to do some multivariate statistics. Keep it simple yet meaningful. Refine that question further. Data visualization is also another way of connecting. In fact, for many of your decision-makers, they would probably prefer to look at colors, bars, and circles rather than rows and columns. Connecting is not just all left brain activities (analytical). There's also something for the right (creative) side of the brain (creative) to do. And when you have these data charted and visualized, you are ready for the next level to CORRECT.
The CORRECT stage requires some action but at least at this stage, having collected and connected the data, the action should now be data-driven. With the data you have collected and connected, decision-makers can now be equipped with data and information and they would not have to rely solely on gut feelings. The CORRECT stage is also an excellent opportunity to look at how you can operate in leaner ways and eliminate waste. With data collected and connected, review the data where you can have reduction in waste or complete elimination. In this CORRECT stage, look for ways to streamline and become leaner and more efficient.
Once you have the first 3 stages in place of COLLECTING, CONNECTING, and CORRECTING, you should have a working system that is streamlined, collaborative, efficient, and effective. You now have a system where you can now be in CONTROL mode. It's almost like cruise control from here but it does not necessarily mean you stop driving because the level of effort to collect, connect, and correct have to be maintained and sustained. It gets easier but it does not mean taking your eyes off the road and your hands off the steering wheel. Once you achieve that desired speed of 65mph, you would still have to sustain that. You would still want to track the data you are collecting. Continue to make the connections and continue to be more proactive and predictive. Keep your eyes on the road, read the signs, and just be aware of what turns and bumps are coming up so that you can prepare. Always strive for continuous improvement. You don't necessarily need to increase your speed but you want to make sure you travel in the most efficient way. Continue to monitor your gauges (your data) and continue to evaluate your progress in order to keep control. For those who know Six Sigma, this is a very popular term. The purpose of Control (as in the DMAIC steps--Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) is to sustain the gains, track progress, and make continuous improvements. It also allows you to practice agile analytics where you can adjust and adapt based on the corrections you make and on the things you learn from your data. The last 2 stages are actually concepts that are popular in Lean Six Sigma practices. At the Correct and Control stages, it is about being lean and agile, optimizing your processes, minimizing defects and errors, and continuously improving.
Being able to Collect, Connect, Correct, and Control your operations data allows you to foresee the road ahead and do some descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. With the data you are Collecting, you get your descriptive analytics. Being able to Connect allows you to do the predictive analytics. Correct and Control allow you to be prescriptive. Some of these steps are not that simple but the 4 C's can serve as a simple guide to transforming your organizational culture to a culture of analytics.