The report, titled “Digital Insights are the New Currency of Business,” was written by Forrester analysts Ted Schadler and Brian Hopkins. It analyzed the behaviors of dozens of industry incumbents along with hundreds of startups to determine which organizations are taking the most advantage of big data’s potential, and what their secrets are.
Starving for Insight
The firms that are most successful in leveraging the mountains of data gathered by big data applications use a combination of people, processes and technologies to systematically analyze their data sets, according to Schadler and Hopkins.
“To harness the power of all your data to attract and serve customers — to be a digital business — you also need a new way of consistently harnessing insights that matter: insights teams using an insights-to-execution process anchored by a new digital insights architecture,” Schadler wrote on his blog.
In particular, the report’s authors found that successful firms go beyond big data and business intelligence practices to build the business discipline and technology to harness insights and convert their data sets into action. The approach works by linking business actions back to data and discovering and testing insights, before taking action.
The Five Secrets to Insight
The companies that are able to extract the best intelligence from their data sets are those that engage in five essential practices, according to the report.
Specifically, they combine business, technology, and data expertise with small teams led by business leaders and domain experts; they test and implement digital insights in software systems, business intelligence tools, and decision-making processes; they test and improve all insights they discover; they constantly extend and expand their big data investments; and managers from different departments collaborate on all big data analyses.
The companies successfully putting these ideas into practice typically use small cross-functional teams that combine business domain expertise, data science skills, engineering expertise, and software development know-how to find, test, and implement insights.
They also employ repeatable processes that integrate data science, collaboration, , and agile implementation workflows. Finally, successful companies build digital insights architectures based on existing big data management and business intelligence work.
The payoff of this systematic approach is more intelligent engagement, a direct link between insights investments and business outcomes, and a deepening ability to harness the power of insights gleaned from the data, according to the report’s authors.
The report found that aggressive incumbents like Ford Motor, General Electric, and USAA were utilizing these strategies, as were insurgent competitors like Netflix, LinkedIn, and Shutterstock. In addition, hundreds of startups are using the insight-driven approach in combination with visualization tools, business services, and machine learning.