The next frontier
Analytics and the future
of mid-market enterprise
Mid-market companies have watched the analytics
revolution with great interest and some uncertainty.
Some are daunted by the perceived complexity or
expense of what they’ve seen. Others are keen, but
challenged by the outdated, highly manual
processes they currently use to collect and analyze
business data – including seeing the opportunity as
exclusively one of data and technology.
It’s time to pull back the revolution’s veil
and take a closer look . . .
Many mid-market companies hesitate to adopt
analytics because they don’t see a clear value
proposition. Some are wary of the hype, while others
remain uncertain about how to make analytics work
As a result, a sizeable number of mid-market
Canadian companies have practically ignored the
analytics opportunity in front of them.
But this is a mistake. Why?
Analytics isn’t just another cost. It’s the single most
important investment companies can make today,
one that can deliver real bottom-line beneﬁts and
lead to a business environment where everything is
driven by genuine insight.
That’s why we call companies that do this Insight
Driven Organizations (IDOs) – they not only leverage
data and technology to great eﬀect, they do so
precisely because they ingrain fact-based decision
making into the organization’s culture.
And it’s only becoming easier and more aﬀordable to
do. Whatever the nature and size of your business,
analytics can deliver improvements wherever you
Think about it. You know you’re looking for . . .
Companies have always tried to better understand
their customers’ needs and behaviours and use
that understanding to drive engagement and sales.
Analytics takes much of the guesswork out of the
process by developing insights from the data
companies already have.
You also know you want . . .
Analytics can enable mid-market companies to zero
in on their growth drivers in ﬁner detail than ever
before. For example, you can now see how
customer behaviours intersect with traditional
demographics and location.
This allows companies to identify the most
proﬁtable customer segments—not to mention the
least proﬁtable—and use that knowledge to realign
sales and marketing resources.
Analytics also promotes . . .
Analytics can help mid-market companies develop
more accurate forecasts, and model business
scenarios and outcomes more quickly than before.
Analytics can also enhance companies’ ability to
manage and monitor risk, including predicting
and detecting potential fraud incidents or
But we get it. A nagging question remains . . .
Where to begin?
To be sure, the ﬁrst step is always the hardest.
But wherever there’s good data, there’s the
potential for game-changing business insights.
Mid-market companies keen to gain those insights
can begin with some careful thinking.
Start with the following . . .
Focus on the ‘crunchy’ questions
Crunchy questions, are the really diﬃcult questions you need to ask of your data in
order to elicit what you require to build your analytics strategy.
When practical and detailed, they allow for clear and speciﬁc answers, which in turn
allow for action.
What are your immediate strategic goals? What area(s) of the business are most in
need of a boost? Pricing? Return on marketing investment? Risk management?
Analytics leads to solutions. Let your questions guide you.
Next . . .
Assemble an eﬀective team
Successful analytics endeavours depend on a mix of the so-called “blue” technical
skills required to ‘do the math’ and the “red” business skills required to inﬂuence and
And though it isn’t always easy to ﬁnd the “purple people”* who exemplify both
skillsets, it can be done.
* Eckerson, Wayne. TDWI Blog. “’Purple People’: The Key to BI Success”. April 29, 2010.
https://tdwi.org/Blogs/TDWI-Blog/2010/04/Purple-People.aspx. Accessed June 23, 2016.
Either way, teams can be outsourced, or built over time. What matters most is
identifying an executive champion who can focus on the crunchy questions,
striking the right balance of skills, and ensuring clear and consistent communication
Similarly, you’ll need . . .
Manageable, repeatable governance
Processes that help clarify how you should act on the insights you generate with
analytics can be elusive. Often, this is because they leave out key components.
To build ideal capacity, you need a governance framework that:
• Aligns your analytics priorities with your corporate vision
• Allows central management of tools and processes
• Shares successes and best practices across the company
Next . . .
Identify relevant data
Many companies already have the data they need, they often just don’t know they
have it, or what to do with it. And that’s usually because they have so much of it,
Go back to your crunchy questions and think about the kinds of data you’ll need to
Set the rest aside for now.
However, remember to . . .
To be just enough on the safe side, pilot analytics in an area where expectations are
modest but the potential opportunity is high. Failure often leads to abandonment,
and that’s a mistake where analytics are concerned.
We advocate a proof of concept exercise that allows you to fail without breaking
anything. You try it, measure the results and return on investment, and then decide
where to go next.
Speaking of where to go . . .
Know exactly where that is
Develop a plan that covers both the introduction and expansion of analytics use in
the company, one that is also ﬂexible enough to adapt to shifting market dynamics.
A measured, thoughtful approach will help you reap the rewards without the risks
entailed in doing too much too soon.
Isn’t that . . .
The ultimate goal?
To become an Insight-Driven Organization, all you need to do is supplement your
hard-won experience and knowledge with data, insight, and reasoning in every
decision you make – at every level of the organization.
With careful attention to strategy, people, and process – not to mention the data
itself, and the technology you use – the result will be nothing less than a revolution
in the culture and capability of your working environment.
Fact is, IDOs increase revenues, reduce costs, mitigate risk, and simply out-compete