Building data driven companies — 3 P’s framework.

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Data Driven Comapnies need Process Platform People

Data Driven Companies — 3 P’s framework

People:

To build data-driven organization, you need decision makers to use data instead of anything else. So you need to help built a culture where data-driven decision-making thrives — usually this is most efficient if you have executive buy-in. Example: A CEO who is a stats-junkie! Of course, not every company would have this. It could be that you find yourself in an organization where the CEO is known to make huge bets just using “gut” — in cases like this, an organization could have some of the best platform and processes but unfortunately, it won’t do any good.

Now just having people who make data driven decisions is not enough — you (as a data professional) need to deliver “data” to them. To do that you need 1) Processes 2) Platform. So let’s talk about them:

Platform:

A platform in this context is the data and analytics platform used by the organization to get the data they need, when they need it. If the organization is small (e.g. less than 15 or so) then the platform could be excel and engineers/analyst writing ad-hoc queries but as you grow (= team size expands) then you need better platform to serve the data needs of the organization. Some tools are better than others and you would usually wind up using multiple vendors in your analytics stack — but remember that jut having a great analytics platform is not enough. You need the “people” and the “processes” to go with that. So, with that let’s talk about process:

Process:

Process is everything between Platform and People. Let me expand on this. Here are few things where having a defined process is key for building data-driven organizations.

  1. How to prioritize the analytics request? It will be great to have a process where you/team will work on projects that closely align with the strategic objective of the company
  2. What does the analytics org-structure look like? Do you have analyst embedded in each team or do you have a centralized team or do you go for a hybrid approach?
  3. What is the process to justify investment in analytics?
  4. Which is the “right” metric definition? (There needs to be a process that keeps the metric definition standardized in an organization)
  5. What is the process to clean data? (Maintaining data integrity is key. You could put this on “Platform” bucket as well)
  6. How do users get “help”? (Is there a ticketing system that they should use? Is it just another “IT” ticket? Who responds to tickets? What’s the SLA around analytics queue tickets? etc)
  7. Who owns “analytics”? There needs to be someone on the team owns analytics like analytics manager, VP of analytics and he/she should be reporting to someone on management team (CIO, CFO, COO, Chief of Staff, CEO) who is held responsible as well.

The list goes on…but I hope you get the point. Having a well-defined processes in an organization is important — usually, this stuff gets less attention and org’s/teams tend to focus just on “platform” which might not be the best thing to do.

Having shared the 3 P’s, let me share few tips on

How to go about implementing the framework:

Three tips:

  1. Identify the “P” that has the best ROI
  2. It’s an iterative process!
  3. Refine as needed

On #1. To help you identify the “P” that has the best ROI, your first step could be to create a matrix to help you evaluate where your organizations falls. I have shown an example below:

Building Data Driven companies 3 Ps framework matrix

If you want to build analytics from scratch then you would love working at early stage startups (bottom-right) but if you like advanced stuff (data-science) then Top-right corner is great! Also, For org’s in Top Left where you have the platform and processes but lack data-driven people — it would be wise to crank up your efforts to drive adoption. (since you already have the right platform and process than any additional investment here would yield little to no ROI).

On #2. Understand that it’s an iterative process. You are never done optimizing any of these P’s! It’s a journey and not a destination.

Continuos Improvement Process People Platform

On #3: Just like with other frameworks, you’ll need to refine and adjust this based on your needs. You may have noticed that I focused on “Org-wide” framework but you could be heading up an analytics function for a department and in that case, not all of the things here would help. “People”, “Process” and “Platform” would still apply on a high level but it might just be that you don’t have “control” over the platform. So, you may need to refine/adjust this as needed.

I hope the framework is a great tool for you to think about building data driven companies!

Best,
Paras Doshi

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Doing Data Science at Twitter — A great read!

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Doing Data science at Twitter

Doing Data science at Twitter

Why is “Doing Data Science at Twitter” a great read?

This is an insider’s perspective from someone who is working at a company that I classify as having the highest level of analytics maturity — In other words, Twitter is known to apply knowledge gained from data science into their products and business processes.

It’s also important to recognize that every company is different and the analytics/data-science tools/techniques/processes that would be implemented would also vary based on the analytics maturity — I love that this was one of the key insights shared in this article.

Also, the article talks about two types of data scientists…I thought it was great way to classify them because there’s a lot of confusion in the industry around what a Data scientist does. With that, Here’s the URL:

My two-year journey as a data scientist at twitter

Best,
Paras Doshi

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500 posts! New Blog Domain name = InsightExtractor.com!

500 blog posts paras doshi
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A new milestone for this blog — 500+ posts! To commemorate this, I decided to change the domain name from ParasDoshi.com to InsightExtractor.com — my goal was two-fold:1) provide an easy to remember name 2) representative of the work that we all do: we help extract insights from data.

Remember to subscribe to this Blog via Email or RSS.

RSS:

http://insightextractor.com/feed/

Email:

Best,
Paras Doshi

How to change the Data Source of a SQL Server Reporting Services Report (Native Mode)?

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Problem:

You have your SQL Server Reporting Services environment in native mode — and you want to modify the data source of a report there.

Solution:

  1. Navigate to Report Manager.
  2. Navigate to the Report that you want to Manage and run it
  3. After the report renders, you will have a breadcrumb navigation on the top right
  4. Click on the Last Part of the Breadcrumb NavigationSSRS properties report native mode
  5. It should open up the “properties” section of this report
  6. On the properties section, you should be able to manage the data source
    SSRS Manage Data Source Native Mode Shared
  7. Make the changes that you wanted to the data source settings of this SSRS report — and don’t forget to click “apply”
  8. Done!

Author: Paras Doshi

How to assign same axis values to a group of spark-lines in Excel?

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Spark-line is a very handy data visualization technique! It’s great when you are space constrained to show trends among multiple data points.

Here’s an example:

Spark Line Trend Excel Data Visualization

But there’s an issue with above chart! Axis values for these group of spark-lines do not seem match – it could throw someone off if they didn’t pay close attention. So a good practice – when you know users are going to compare segments based on the spark-lines – is to assign them same axis values so it’s easier to compare. Here’s the modified version:

Excel Sparkline data visualization same axis

And…here are the steps:

1. Make sure that spark-lines are grouped.

Select the spark-lines > go to toolbar > Sparkline Tools > Design > Group

Excel Sparkline Group

2. On the “group” section, you’ll also find the “Axis” option – select that and make sure that “same for all axis” is selected for Vertical axis minimum and maximum values:

Excel Spark Line Data Viz same min max value

 

That’s about it. Just a quick formatting option that makes your spark-lines much more effective!

Author: Paras Doshi

Cohort Analysis: What is it and why use it?

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In this post, you’ll learn definition and benefits of Cohort Analysis. Let’s get started!

Cohort Analysis: What is it?

Cohort analysis is a data analysis technique used to compare similar groups over time.

Cohort Analysis: Why use it?

Here’s the basic idea: Businesses are dynamic and thus are continuously evolving. A customer who joined previous year might get a different experience compared to customer who joined this year. This is especially true if it’s a startup or tech company where the business models change (or Pivot!) often. You might miss crucial insights if you ignore the dynamic nature of businesses in your data analysis. To see if the business models are evolving in right direction, you need to to use cohort analysis to analyze similar groups over time – Let’s see an example to make it a little bit more clear for you.

You decide to analyze “Average Revenue per Customer” by Fiscal Year and came up with following report:

Simple Data Analysis Averages Hide Interesting Trends

It seems that your “Average revenue per customer” is dropping and you worry that your investors might freak out and you won’t secure new investments. That’s sad! But hold on – Let’s put some cohort analysis technique to use and look at the same data-set from a different angle.

In this case, you decide to create cohorts of customers based on their joining year and then plot “Average Revenue Per Customer” by their year from joining date. Same data-set but it might give you different view. See here:

Cohort Analysis Customer Revenue and Year Joined

It seems you’re doing a good job! your latest cohort is performing better than previous cohorts since it has a higher average revenue per customer. This is a great sign – and you don’t need to worry about your investors pulling out either and well, start preparations to attract new investors – all because of cohort analysis! :) WIN-WIN!

Conclusion:

As you saw, cohort analysis is a very powerful technique which can help you uncover trends that you wouldn’t otherwise find by traditional data analysis techniques.

You might also like: Top 2 techniques to analyze data

Author: Paras Doshi

Top 2 Data Analytics Techniques:

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There are many techniques to analyze data. In this post, we’re going to talk about two techniques that are critical for good data analysis! They are called “Benchmarking” and “Segmentation” techniques – Let’s talk a bit more about them:

1. Benchmarking

It means that when you analyze your numbers, you compare it against some point of reference. This would help you quickly add context to your analysis and help you assess if the number if good or bad. This is super important! it adds meaning to you data!

Let’s look at an example. CEO wants to see Revenue numbers for 2014 and an analyst is tasked to create this report. If you were the analyst, which report would you think resonated more w/ the CEO? Left or Right?

Benchmarking data providing context in analysis

I hope the above example helped you understand the importance of providing context w/ your data.

Now, let’s briefly talk about where do you get the data for benchmark?

There are two main sources: 1) Internal & 2) External

The example that you saw above was using an Internal source as a benchmark.

An example of an external benchmark could be subscribing to Industry news/data so that you understand how your business is running compared to similar other businesses. If your business sees a huge spike in sales, you need to know if it’s just your business or if it’s an Industry wide phenomenon. For instance, in Q4 most e-commerce sites would see spike in their sales – they would be able to understand what’s driving it only if they analyze by looking at Industry data and realizing that it’s shopping season!

Now, let’s shift gears and talk about technique #2: Segmentation.

2. Segmentation

Segmentation means that you break your data into categories (a.k.a segments) for analysis. So why do want to do that? Looking at the data at aggregated level is certainly helpful and helps you figure out the direction for your analysis. The real magic & powerful insights are usually derived by analyzing the segments (or sub sets of data)

Let’s a look at an example.

Let’s say CEO of a company looks at profitability numbers. He sees $6.5M and it’s $1M greater than last years – so that’s great news, right? But does that mean everything is fine and there’s no scope of optimization? Well – that could only be found out if you segment your data. So he asks his analyst to look at the data for him. So analyst goes back and after some experimentation & interviews w/ business leaders, he find an interesting insight by segmenting data by customers & sales channel! He finds that even though the company is profitable – there is a huge opportunity to optimize profitability for customer segment #1 across all sales channel (especially channel #1 where there’s a $2M+ loss!) Here’s a visual:

segmentation data Improve profitability low margin service offerings customers

I hope that helps to show that segmentation is a very important technique in data analysis!

Conclusion:

In this post, we saw segmentation & benchmark techniques that you can apply in your daily data analysis tasks!