Many businesses are entering new and exotic areas of analytics, with initiatives to capture social media data, job market information, and the like. These are exciting efforts, no doubt. But often the best sources can be found more easily if business intelligence groups first focus on data sources closer to home and easier to control.
Businesses are capturing a wide range of data in their modern BI systems in an effort to detect patterns and find correlations that are relatable to business performance. With the proliferation of, and hype about, new data types, it can be difficult to quickly make a decision about which data relate relate to business performance.
Before looking externally, optimize your own sphere of control. Utilize the data you own and that you can directly impact before expanding into untested data types that are more difficult to access, analyze and combine with existing enterprise data. As an example, imagine the complexity businesses will face when accessing existing data types like inventory levels or headcount, vs. social media or external job market data, which are out of their sphere of influence.
It is tempting to look outside of the organization for the trendier and more hyped data types, while ignoring the fundamentals. While those external data sets can indeed be valuable, for performance sake it’s better to first focus on what you have, while still keeping an eye on technological developments externally.
For example, many organizations currently lack a firm handle on analytics fundamentals like sales forecasts, operations, and individual, team or company performance metrics. Many even lack the ability to track current headcount and attrition. Since business performance is heavily reliant on the people doing the work, it makes sense to measure the individual, team performance and the related factors that drive performance. It is rare to find these measures on the web or on Twitter.
Innovative organizations are now measuring what seems to be an obvious factor – the people themselves. Who are they? How do they work? What innate characteristics tie to top or low performance? Do the characteristics of their people correlate to top business performance? It’s simple to gather this data about your internal assets (the people) – you just ask since they are in your sphere of control. And, data about the people themselves is reusable far into the future.
A strategic focus on local success factors is easier, faster, more structured and more easily obtained – and it can easily combine with existing data sources. Correlating internal performance outcomes with talent characteristics may seemingly have less sizzle than a trendier Twitter sentiment analysis, but arguably more steak. And by steak, I mean control, predictive capacity, and direct information about performance. Again, I’m not dismissing looking outside the organization and at unstructured data, but first things first!