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Grainger’s Director of Data Science on the 3Ps of Embedded Analytics

Guha Bhagavan, Director of Data Science at Grainger, shared his thoughts on embedded analytics during his keynote presentation at the 2018 Leadership in Big Data & Analytics Forum in Chicago on December 4. In his presentation, “Embedded Analytics – People, Products and the elusive 3rd P,” Bhagavan explained why organizations need to look beyond people and products to get the most out of their embedded analytics.

Analytics are crucial for today’s organizations. They allow organizations to understand industry and consumer patterns and trends, as well as help organizations make data-driven decisions. Also, analytics frequently empower organizations with the insights that they need to keep pace with industry rivals in a fast-moving global marketplace.

However, relying exclusively on analytics is insufficient, particularly for an organization that wants to become an industry leader. Merely collecting massive amounts of structured and unstructured information and using data analysis tools to assess this information offers no guarantees. In some instances, this approach to analytics may actually deliver inaccurate or irrelevant insights.

“With analytics, you’re often trying to get precision and accuracy at the same time, but you end up getting a lot of precision but very low accuracy,” Bhagavan indicated. “This means that in one instance, all of your answers are right. And in another instance, all of your answers are wrong.”

Organizations frequently prioritize people and products relative to analytics. Yet failure to prioritize the elusive “3rd P” – process – may have far-flung effects on an organization.

How an organization structures its day-to-day processes is important. Thanks to embedded analytics, an organization can build data-driven processes that support its mission and goals. These processes may help an organization drive unparalleled revenue growth and customer retention as well.

Processes play key roles in an organization’s success. Meanwhile, if an organization can integrate analytics into its day-to-day processes, it may be better equipped than ever before to get the most out of its analytics for years to come.

“The concept of embedding analytics into a process or tool has been around for a long time, but it is becoming more mainstream,” Bhagavan noted. “And the third P … really makes a difference if you want to have good embedded analytics.”

Embedded analytics empower organizations to obtain meaningful insights. If analytics are embedded into an organization’s everyday processes, this organization could help its employees make fast, informed decisions.

“We need to provide relevant information for day-to-day decisions,” Bhagavan pointed out. “If you want to be able to do that, it becomes important that you make your day-to-day decisions based on certain processes, systems and tools.”

Additionally, embedded analytics can help an organization discover ways to stand out from the competition, accelerate its growth and expand globally.

If analytics are embedded into everyday processes, for example, employees can collect and assess real-time insights. These employees then can use real-time insights to deploy immediate improvements. As such, an organization’s employees can use analytics to boost their productivity and efficiency.

“If analytics become a part of a process, they can become a part of your daily life,” Bhagavan said. “And [analytics] then can be brought into the daily work you do.”

Organizations now have the ability to integrate analytics into their customer relationship management (CRM) systems, too.

CRM systems generally help organizations identify relevant customer segments and determine the best ways to engage with a target audience. With embedded analytics, an organization can find innovative ways to connect with consumers day after day. Embedded analytics may even help an organization discover new ways to foster long-lasting customer partnerships.

“If you think about how you identify your [target] segments … you need to be able to identify the customer and target those segments consistently,” Bhagavan stated. “A growth strategy aligns to a micro-segment … and if you can build analytics into [CRM] processes, then analytics can become a key part of this [strategy].”

Embedding analytics into everyday processes usually requires an organization-wide commitment. But with the right approach to embedded analytics, an organization can ensure that all of its employees can obtain actionable insights any time they choose.

Furthermore, an embedded analytics strategy should be built with collaboration from multiple departments. By deploying a collaborative approach to embedded analytics, an organization can ensure that different departments can get the most out of these analytics. Perhaps best of all, this organization can empower its employees to use embedded analytics to help it achieve the optimal results.

“If you are bringing in support teams and including them in [analytics] conversations upfront, it helps a lot,” Bhagavan noted. “There are downstream effects that you can’t always imagine, so it is always good to bring your execution teams into the planning process.”

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