Data Analytics Roadmap: It’s all About the Business

The ABD Society Executive Roundtable series got off to a fast start May 24, 2017, with the conversation topic: Considerations for Your Data Analytics Roadmap. The key takeaway from the CIOs at the table was the roadmap isn’t focused on technology and tools, but rather the contribution to solving problems and meeting business goals. Business problems, business strategy and business goals all need to be considered together.

A common theme in the discussion was data analytics roadmap is a long term journey, and like an onion, has many layers. In many cases the journey involves taking dark data and making it visible to all, in real time. This journey often includes an objective of giving control to the end users via a mobile or web app, while building interconnectivity.

Where do you start the data analytics journey? An existing business problem is often the first step, although some at the table expressed that a mining/exploratory effort can also be used as a starting point. It is important to establish the long term plan and deliver incremental “wins” along the way. The CIOs mentioned that a roadmap can sometimes be started before the users become aware of the overall plan. There is no replacement for hard work and results. Earning the trust of the business with small wins can help influence the mindset of the organization to the value of data analytics.

Knowing your customer is a key factor. As Joe Topinka wrote in this post, the more you know about what engages customers, the more you can influence their engagement. Spend time with your customers, understand their processes and pain points, and you’ll be in a better position to build a successful roadmap.

Culture was an important issue mentioned in the roundtable discussion. You have to engage all levels of the organization in the data analytics journey, winning the hearts and minds of one business user at a time. As the IT leaders, we have to understand that the same data sets are often used in different ways. It is important to help stakeholders use data analytics to answer business questions, even those they haven’t thought of yet.

Exposing dark data can often show missing opportunities and can help change the culture to be more open. Making business users/employees/clients feel safe to share problems will help encourage two-way education. Idea generation and creativity is usually a missing piece in a roadmap. It’s important to keep progressive thinkers engaged in the process of leveraging analytics to help the organization become more data driven.

Theo Epstein is a great sports example integrating data analytics and culture. His devotion to data-driven analysis helped his baseball teams identify and accumulate players with little-noticed but crucial strengths. The results for his Boston Red Sox team includes six playoff appearances and two World Series titles in nine seasons, and when he transitioned to the Chicago Cubs, this data-driven approach lead to their 2016 World Series championship, their first in 108 years. The power of data analytics!

The ABD Society holds monthly executive roundtable discussions on important topics in the field of data analytics. If you are the IT leader of your organization and wish to get engaged in this series, please contact us at

If you are a practitioner and wish to engage in ABD Society events, please join us at one of our Signature events (see our website for details). The next event is scheduled for July 12, 2017 with the topic: Winning Security with Data. We hope to see you there!