• January 17, 2017

Fully Baked In: An Operational Analytics Manifesto 

HPE Fellow Joe Hill describes the critical need for analytics in every business process.

By Joe Hill, Analytics Chief Technologist, Analytics & Data Management, and Fellow, Enterprise Services

It’s no secret that we live in a data-driven world, but do you fully appreciate the extent to which we do? Every day, the world produces 2.5 exabytes worth of data. That’s a mind-boggling amount of information and enough to fill a whopping 10 million Blu-ray discs.

Locked within all of that data is a treasure trove of information that can be harnessed in countless ways. It can be used to do everything from understanding buying behaviors to optimizing the life-span of machinery through predictive maintenance, to solving day-to-day business problems. In the automotive industry, for example, we see car manufacturers carefully monitoring social media. Why? Because they’re collecting data about potential issues that drivers are experiencing so that they can not only anticipate engineering problems but also better meet customer needs with future models.

Similarly, in IT organizations around the world, teams are carefully monitoring server data, with an eye toward degradation. By analyzing the data, they can anticipate when a server is going to fail and intervene before it ever does. In these and many other ways, data represents a massive opportunity. It offers a chance to gain a more holistic view of the world so that you can make better, more-informed decisions. That in turn can help you to not only save money, but also create enormous value.

Our evolving relationship with data in recent years clearly reflects this opportunity.

A Shift in Data Priorities

Not that long ago, data was something that was kept siloed, often in data warehouses, where it was used for very specific purposes such as reporting. As the value of data became increasingly apparent, companies started making a more concerted effort to collect it and put it to greater use across the business.

More recently, we’ve gone from seeing data being used solely to support executive decision-making to fueling operational decisions at every level across the entire enterprise. These days, savvy companies are continuously learning from their data and are using it to automate all kinds of decisions.

Of course, doing all of this is easier said than done. 

The Path to Analytics Success

You can’t be a data-driven business if you don’t have any data. The good news is that for most companies, data availability is a relatively straightforward proposition. They can collect data directly from their products, capture it using any number of tools and services, or simply buy it from third parties. They just need to appreciate the wide variety of sources they can cultivate their data from, including the Internet of Things, social media, and data warehouses, among many other sources.

The challenge they face is ensuring that analytic discovery is an ongoing and institutionalized process that’s baked into their workflows, governance, and even their company culture. Companies need to realize that data has the potential to give them a significant competitive advantage. Of course, it’s important to point out that data alone has no value. You’ve got to use that data to derive meaningful insights that you can apply to your business. Unfortunately, that’s where most companies tend to fall down.

Operational Analytics Decoded

The key to winning the data battle is using it to create value. I like to refer to this as operational analytics, which is simply the process of embedding data-driven insights into your business operations, applications, and even machines to solve problems, create new innovative solutions, and ultimately add value.

Doing so is a complicated process. It involves production, application integration, and decision and data management, among a variety of other factors. It requires a shift from traditional analytic processes to a new approach that integrates analytics across disconnected process domains. The key is to routinely analyze the data to uncover operational insights, embed those insights into your products or services, and then use the insights to make improvements.

The Way Forward

In the age of Big Data and analytics, companies cannot afford to rest on their laurels. They need to take a proactive stance both toward data discovery and collection, and turning that data into insights that can be embedded into the business.

Making this happen isn’t always easy, but it is possible. The key is to create a culture across your enterprise that’s conducive to operational analytics. That means making data and analytics a part of your business culture and decision-making so that people are always looking to collect as much of it as they can and finding ways to apply the insights they gain from it to solve business problems.

The companies that master this will be at a distinct competitive advantage and well-positioned to dominate their markets.

 

To learn more about operational analytics, check out this HPE white paper.