Although there are endless success stories that confirm data can add enormous value, it is hard to know where data fits in on an everyday basis. Today, the rise of technology and SaaS solutions has made it easier for companies, more than ever, to acquire data analytics capabilities in a variety of ways.
Author: Chad Buckendahl
When asked what my typical workday looks like, I’d usually say diving into a good spreadsheet as part of my answer for the last 20 years of my career. If you’re like me, you enjoy the journey that data analysis can take you on. From learning to asking the right questions to ultimately solving difficult problems, the process of finding solutions through analytics motivates me to explore more. And, the way that I’ve always explored data over the years is through spreadsheets.
A few years ago, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Finance Pros Say You’ll Have to Pry Excel Out of Their Cold, Dead Hands.” It struck me. There are very few articles that I can recall details after a few weeks' time, yet this one still has me thinking today. Reading this article was the first I’d heard about the adoption of business intelligence (BI) in exchange of spreadsheets. Back then, I had a hard time believing that I would be able to replace spreadsheets with BI. Even using BI as a daily part of my routine, I still needed spreadsheets throughout my day to conduct final analyses and make decisions. After seeing how BI could self-serve 100% of my needs, I began to keep mental notes of when and why I choose to use spreadsheets over the BI dashboards at my fingertips.
A recent study in Inc. Magazine suggests that up to “73% of company data goes unused for analytics.” At the same time, a 2019 study in Forbes indicates that an all-time high of “48% of organizations say cloud BI is either ‘critical’ or ‘very important’ to their operations.” It should come as no surprise that data is not yet strategic for many organizations. Analyzing data is an activity that often gets deprioritized in the complexities of business. There is no shortage of demands that compete for resources and attention. Although there are endless success stories that confirm data can add enormous value, it is hard to know where data fits in on an everyday basis. Today, the rise of technology and SaaS solutions has made it easier for companies, more than ever, to acquire data analytics capabilities in a variety of ways.
Over the years working with sticky.io, I’ve had the opportunity to consult with hundreds of our DTC clients on data analytics to better understand their consumers and business performance. I started taking note of the top habits our successful, and more advanced, clients employ within their online businesses. I often find myself sharing these success stories in daily conversations with our clients and was recently encouraged to write them down. I hope that they will help you fine-tune your analytical processes and become a sophisticated BI user. I won’t attempt to convince you to remove spreadsheets out of your daily routine, but if you keep an open mind, I think you will see where BI can fit into your organization’s culture. If you heed these four habits, you will see that it’s possible to create a data-driven culture and accrue the competitive benefits that result.
Complexity and abstraction are the enemies of business strategy. That’s why I appreciate these four simple concepts. While there is no silver bullet that guarantees success, I hope that these habits will have the same impact that I’ve seen them have on numerous clients.
While I do think that spreadsheets still have their place and will maintain a staple in the average analyst’s day, I do see a time when BI dashboards are used more than spreadsheets. I’m already there — I currently use BI dashboards twice as much as I use spreadsheets on a given day to help make strategic decisions. Staying on top of the data allows you to continually make improvements.