Anyone in the business of performance improvement, whether in commerce, sport, finance, or science, must start with measurement. Hard numbers are ultimately what your senior managers, board members and shareholders will look at to determine your success or failure – so you had better be able to provide them.

Fortunately, modern analytics solutions are available, turning all the information in the many systems and databases into measurable and actionable data.

At the same time, investing in analytics gives a double whammy to efficiency. Firstly, the insight gained can be used to improve performance; and secondly, the admin time taken to produce these kinds of reports is hugely reduced, which allows managers and leaders to instead spend their time learning from the data.

Creating your data estate

The first order of business is to make sure you have a single view of your business and of each customer. This means finding all the data that exists throughout your business and bringing it together.

It is not enough to just focus on the structured data in your business, such as records of customer transactions and interactions. While these do need to be linked up in some way if they reside in separate systems, there is far more information locked up in your unstructured data.

It is estimated that 80% of all business data is unstructured, which generally refers to information that doesn’t fit a pre-defined data model or is not organised in pre-defined manner. Unstructured data is typically text heavy, image or sound based and often contains a mixture of numbers and facts. It includes things like website visitor meta-data, ad-hoc customer comments and call recordings.

Your analytics suite should be able to derive information from unstructured data by applying metadata tags. Applying tags turns your information into data and allows you to group and categorize this new data so it can be analysed and evaluated. Software can also use smart algorithms or tools such as Regular Expressions to comb unstructured documents for specific types of data and extract that information automatically.

Combining structured, semi-structured and unstructured data provides you with a complete view of your organisation’s data estate.

Visualising your data for insight

Once you have done that, you need to be able to collate, analyse, interrogate and visualise all that data, in as near real-time as possible, in order to uncover connections that have previously been hidden.

Today’s analytics suites do all the tagging, number crunching, and analysis before you even make a query. Their sophistication varies, but most should have a fair number of standard report types that you can customise and run without needing to call IT. That’s because your operational and management teams need to be able to ask whatever questions they want without being limited by the analytics suite.

Self-service analytics allows your managers to go far beyond customising reports and create all kinds of charts and other visualisations to tease out connections and correlations between different pieces of data. The ability to deep dive into a data set is also crucial as the answer will likely not be visible at the top level and will instead need cross-checking with other sources.

Even in environments where many applications the business uses may be SaaS or cloud-hosted – and the data in these systems effectively ring-fenced – new self-service technologies are emerging such as Data Preparation (or Data Wrangling), Search-driven BI, Smart Data Discovery and Prescriptive Analytics tools that allow users to extract, cross-reference, and run reports on the data they need.

Self-service analytics tools served by an enterprise-wide warehouse of meta-tagged data allows users to get the insight they need while enabling to IT to retain control over infrastructure, data governance, and security.

Better operational efficiency

While the contact centre, being the hub for many transactions, is an increasingly rich source of insight for the whole business, the analytics suite is also an important tool for improving performance and efficiency.

In terms of time and cost saving, our own analytics suite is used by a bank to produce reports in 30 minutes that previously took a third-party company anywhere from two weeks to a month to create. A charity in the UK saves 3 days a month which dramatically speeds up time to insight, while a healthcare company saves an estimated half a million pounds a year.

In terms of managing contact centre operations, if you want to be able to do things like seamlessly manage interactions across multiple channels, route customers to exactly the right team or person, proactively engage customers to head off potential issues, personalise offers, and predict call volume patterns, then you’re going to need a modern self-service analytics suite.

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