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businessman-with-binoculars-44303560-resized-600In blog posts, our LinkedIn Groups, on Facebook, we tend to throw the words “data” & “insight” around like they are one in the same. I know, I know, last week we talked about “Excel” vs. “spreadsheets” this week it’s “data” & “insight.” Has 9DOTS Thinking Outside the Box blog suddenly become a long-winded vocabulary lesson!? I promise you the answer is no, AND I am going to keep it short. The difference between the words “data” and “insight” are just as important as last weeks post (found here), if not more important, because we ALL use the words as synonyms–even previous 9DOTS blogs!

To keep it short & sweet:

  • Data = unprocessed facts, in no organized fashion, from multiple different sources
  • Insight = actionable knowledge that comes from data

This may seem like something small and insignificant, but it is critical to identify the difference. You see, that while it is great to have tons of data, you may not have all of the information or knowledge you really need to gain competitive advantage. How many products did you sell last month? You probably know that number off the top of your head! But why? Why did you sell (or not sell) that amount? What will you accomplish as a business next month, in 6 months, based on the data & numbers you have from last year? Is that change in marketing that you made working positively?

With the right analytics, data can be pulled together from different sources, be organized and help you gain knowledge you didn’t even realize you could have about your organization. Many businesses use data to drive actions and decisions, but if information gives you actionable insight you are much closer to finding value. Turning data into INSIGHT creates the narrative you need to tell your story. As long as you have the correct tools to do so, you will see drastically less unorganized numbers and much more actionable knowledge and information.

bowieCHANGESTurn and face the strange. Now, maybe David Bowie could change the way he looked at the drop of a hat without a care in the world, but for CEOs of any sized organization, it’s just not that easy to make a change. But like the “Changes” lyrics say, we can’t stop time. If every day you are worrying about the effect of environmental changes, interest rate shifts, customer behavior contradictions, supply issues, and any other unpredictable factors, it’s probably time to make a change. CEOs have a lot on their plate, which means so do their employees. Maybe last year and the years before, you just couldn’t adapt fast enough. That is why you implement a forecasting solution that does the worrying for you.

In work, just as in your every day life, uncertainty and risk just happen. And when these things do happen, you want to adapt your business and accommodate the variables quickly and painlessly. With an automated and streamlined forecasting process, you make adjustments frequently and utilize the past few years of stress by applying them to your future in order to make positive changes.

17% of businesses suffered financial loss in 2015 due to poor spreadsheets, and 78% of businesses say their key financial decisions are supported by spreadsheets. It is not worth the jumbled numbers, and stress of change, if it is also hindering your processes and holding you back from becoming a more profitable organization. Time is not going to stop, so take a take a page out of Bowie’s book and make some changes.

 

Speaking of changes: 9DOTS has been making some changes to its website & content, check them out here & look around!

2015 is coming to an end, and so has your budgeting season.  If you have been reading along, or even if you haven’t, here are a few facts we learned through different surveys and research throughout the year.

A study by Grant Thorton, LLP shows that only 36% of businesses use scenarios and “what-if” analyses to re-check possible outcomes of a strategy.

A study by F1F showed that, out of 1,200 senior managers surveyed yielded stastics like “17% of large businesses suffered financial loss due to poor spreadsheets, and 78% say that key financial decisions are supported by spreadsheets.”

Companies spend weeks or even months completing the annual budgeting process, because it is so important. But too many companies fail to supplement the annual budget with planning activities that could strengthen performance management, gain competitive advantage, and of course drive profit!

Read our white paper to figure out how NOT to be a statistic in 2016, and instead stay ahead of the competition. 

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AnalyticsAnalytics can challenge your organization. Data is so abundant that the complexity and confusion of it all can be overwhelming. When you sit down and try to analyze everything, you just don’t know where to start, or where to go. But Narendra Mulani, the senior managing director at Accenture Analytics has some sage advice: recognize what is important & what your analytics should be doing for every aspect of your organization.

If even that seems overwhelming, there’s one more step—simplify. “Pursue a simpler path to uncovering insight:”

1. Accelerate the Data: “Fast data = fast insight = fast outcomes.” When an environment is created that accelerates your data, your organization can manage that data much quicker. Getting the data you need in real-time improves many aspects of your business.

2. Delegate the work to your analytics technologies with

  • Next generation Business Intelligence & Data Visualization
  • Data discovery
  • Analytics applications
  • Machine learning and cognitive computing

3. Recognize that each path to data insight is unique. With data, elements are always changing and new obstacles come into play that challenge your data. There will always be new questions, and different answers that solve the dilemma of each question. “No matter what combination of culture and technology exists for a business, each path to analytics insight should be individually paved with an outcome-driven mindset.”

By taking these three steps, your analytics strategy will be simplified and so will the way your organization is run. It’s rare that simplicity can seem like it is enough, but with your big data and analytics processes, simple is beneficial.

error_spreadsheetBI Solutions that eliminate the complicated use of spreadsheets create stronger, efficient organizations. In the last post I shared that the use of a business intelligence tool eliminates spreadsheet errors and creates confidence in numbers.

FIF9 conducted research with YouGov and obtained empirical data about just how detrimental making an error in a spreadsheet can be to your business. It is understood that many people feel safe in familiarity. Where spreadsheet use may be complex, changing our ways can be equally as taxing. This study shows the negative effects staying in the “spreadsheet comfort-zone” can have on your organization. More notes and statistics on the use and abuse of spreadsheets can be found in the F1F9 study here.

The research was conducted with help over 1,200 UK-based senior managers

Data supports what we see in the market everyday: spreadsheets play a critical role in business decision making globally.

With a statistic like “17% of large business suffered financial loss due to poor spreadsheets,” it is necessary to read about an alternative solution. After all, 78% of British businesses say that key financial decisions are supported by spreadsheets.” As easy as it may be to stay safe, making a change in your processes can be exceedingly beneficial.

self-service-bi“The term self-service might imply that business users can do everything themselves and don’t need help from IT and BI teams to gain valuable insights from business information.”

The world of big data has not always been for everyone. Viewing and analyzing data could require extensive, expert consultation or scripting. Jumbled, confusing data means relying on other people in your organization in order to complete a task and get the job done. With intuitive and easy-to-use interfaces, “Advances in hardware sped processing and lowered costs, enabling the development of software that supported more complex analytics and ever richer visualizations.” Even the less savvy business users can take advantage of what smart analytics have to offer.

Business users can begin to use predictive analytics without complicated procedures. That being said, this article from techtarget.com shows us that IT is not pushed to the sidelines with self-service analytics and that the definition of “self-service” only extends so far. “Users of self-service BI tools should think not about gaining independence from IT and BI teams, but about developing a better working relationship that will make it easier to analyze data faster and more accurately.” Smart Analytics provide organizations with a lot of benefits. Without having to rely on IT to complete tasks, business users are more efficient. IT is able to strengthen their position and develop and enhance your organization’s team as a whole.