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Book Review: 5 Keys to Business Analytics Program Success



From business intelligence to business analytics: a road to rapid success.


Written by Kesar Sandhu


5 Keys to Business Analytics Program Success (MC Press, 2012) is a relevant publication in view of increasing consumerism, in order to understand the class, style, and preferences of consumers, which change on a daily basis. Analytics is a tool that helps businesses identify trends and make decisions. Marketing has evolved from a creative process into a highly data-driven one, and marketing organizations now use analytics to determine the outcomes of campaigns or efforts and to guide investment and consumer-targeting decisions.


A few years ago, business intelligence dominated the analytics landscape, encompassing and integrating with a variety of technologies. Today, the landscape is so vast that the terms of reference have changed. Business analytics is aptly described as the fusion of technologies, competencies, practices, and applications for the constant review of business performance to achieve insights and facilitate business planning. It utilizes several factors, including data, quantitative and statistical analyses, extrapolative and explanatory modeling, and management based on facts to propel decision-making processes.


5 Keys to Business Analytics Program Success defines business analytics as the groups of analytical capabilities used to help make better decisions. The key areas mentioned in the book include business intelligence (reporting, analysis, scorecard, and dashboard capabilities); performance management (budgeting, planning, forecasting, and what-if scenarios); predictive and advanced analytics (predictive and statistical analysis); and risk management. Risk is a dominating factor in the business in view of the extensive investment. The goal of risk management is to identify, quantify, and mitigate risks with the appropriate solution.


The focus of this book is evolving and enhancing the analytic capability level by innovating and integrating technologies to produce the best results in the most efficient ways. Implementing business analytics technologies helps organizations to achieve higher levels of performance and analytics maturity and to constantly strive for excellence. The book explains that business analytics is a technology that affects businesses on the front lines, as well as the management of business, governments, teams, and individuals. It has a positive impact on the business as a whole.


5 Keys to Business Analytics Program Success stresses that the five keys discussed in the book are not an organizational design or technology but rather a program to define the areas of focus for the business analytics program. Change is the name of game, and this book helps in collaborating, communicating, and creating change in the organization. It is about building knowledge, aligning the organization, and transforming the organization for success.


A business analytics program is:

  • How you implement the strategy, people, processes, and technologies to achieve business outcomes
  • The capability to address innovation, transformation, standardization, and other dynamic factors
  • A fluid, changing agile set of teams, processes, and projects
  • A long-term series of activities, plans, procedures, and projects managed by a team characterized by both virtual and structured relationships

By implementing the five keys, you create strategy and value for the organization. The program helps you structure the organization, combat politics, design processes, and determine technology requirements. Following these steps leads to rapid success. This book is a practical guide to knowledge that can be adapted to meet the needs of any business. It provides a process for developing and implementing best practices and for creating a culture of performance and success.


Having a clear strategy and vision is a critical factor that impacts the ability of an organization to achieve success in a strategic business analytics initiative. 5 Keys to Business Analytics Program Success emphasises that success is based on the overall business strategy, which must address the future vision for technology, people (culture and organization), and process. The strategy should create a roadmap to determine the move of the organization in a series of measurable successes.


Businesses have realized the benefits of demonstrating value by leveraging to support or enable people and process and ultimately support the organizational strategy. A 2009 IBM Institute for Business Value study discovered that organizations that use analytics outperform their peers by 2.2 times. An IBM CFO study done in 2010 showed that chief financial officers in organizations that use analytics extensively report revenue growth of 36 percent or more—a 15 percent greater return on invested capital and twice the rate of growth in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization).


The five key areas that businesses should focus on to increase the success of a business analytics program are strategy, value, people, process, and technology.

  • Strategy: A successful Business Analytics Program starts with a well-defined, coordinated business and IT strategy. The strategy requires ongoing focus and adjustments to ensure the organization understands the goals and expected outcomes, sets priorities, and connects the analytics strategy to the corporate strategy.
  • Value: It is important to understand and document the value of the overall business analytics program. Building a value portfolio, defining outcomes and targets, and measuring success often falls behind other priorities, causing difficulty when teams want to go back for additional resource investment.
  • People: This component is a critical element of a business analytics program. It involves a variety of things, including understanding the organization's maturity and analytics culture; managing executive involvement and getting the right people on board; building the organizational design (the Analytics Center of Excellence); identifying the skills, talent, and roles required; and managing relationships, communication, and evangelism.
  • Process: The business analytics program needs to put in place processes, policies, and guidelines that will help assist the team's success. Processes must be implemented, monitored, and continually evaluated to ensure the organization can grow while maintaining an agile business analytics program.
  • Technology: Technology is the backbone of the entire business analytics program. It is important that technology does not lead the program, but follows it. Organizations must implement a technology solution that will meet the needs of the business. At the same time, because innovation is rapid today, users may not know the "art of the possible." A balance between the two must be recognized.

An analytics-driven organizational culture creates a competitive advantage and leads to higher business performance. Analytics technologies help executives, managers, and employees better monitor their business, plan collaboratively among various stakeholders, and integrate diverse types of data that can be transformed into knowledge.


5 Keys to Business Analytics Program Success is a case study spanning several years by a team of authors in their respective fields and companies. They focus on the five key elements, expanding the framework in greater detail in each chapter. This work can help businesses to create a dynamic management that collaborates on elements of better performance and rapid success. It is an easy read and helpful guide to implementing these keys in the workplace. The book is a most relevant and much-needed publication in view of the changing face of the business environment, in which organizations face constant competition and strive continually for success—a must-read for executives.

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