• Dynamics Matters Podcast: Episode 6 - Why your analytics is probably lying to you

Dynamics Matters Podcast: Episode 6 - Why your analytics is probably lying to you

With special guest Daniel Knott, Head of Data and Analytics at HSO UK

This episode covers:

✓ Is your data trustworthy?

✓ How to solve the most common data issues

✓ How to gain more value from your data


Michael Lonnon – 0:01

Welcome to you, are lovely listeners to the HSO dynamics matters podcast, your regular Sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters, and much more Besides. I’m Michael Lonnon and today I’m joined by Liverpool loving head of data and analytics Daniel Knott, but don’t let that put you off because Dan provides some fantastic advice for those looking to extract more value from their data. We also discussed why it’s important to consider your data first before you look at your analytics tooling. Grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Michael Lonnon – 0:58

Data or analytics?

Dan Knott – 1:02


Michael Lonnon – 1:04


Dan Knott – 1:05

Because I can analysis the data.

Michael Lonnon – 1:09

Which actually leads me nicely to the first question of this podcast. When it comes to analytics, there’s a lot of really good tools out there. And if you go out and buy yourself the Ferrari of analytics, you’ve got an awesome analytics tool now, surely that’s job done? That is going to give you the technology you need to analyse your information, your data and enable you to make some better decisions. Better decisions that may move the business forward? Surely, that’s all you need?

Dan Knott – 1:40

No because there’s a lot, underneath that. It fundamentally comes down to data. You know the old saying ‘rubbish in rubbish out’ and the use of data, a lot of organisations will only focus on one data stream. In conjunction with that there are many things influencing the data set that’s there. In essence, yes, you could have the shiniest of tools, but if you’re not using it in the right way, then you’re not going to get value at the end of it. You need to obviously, look at the wider picture of what you’re bringing into that Ferrari, shall we say, to get the value out of that.

Michael Lonnon – 2:27

So, it’s data and it’s also the use of the analytics tool. Both of those things have got to be right for you to get value out of analytics tool.

Dan Knott – 2:39


Michael Lonnon – 2:40

Let’s pick analytics first then, how might you go about getting the best use out of it?

Dan Knott – 2:51

It very much comes down to strategy. A clearly defined strategy, about how and what you want to use that data for. The reason why I say that is take a step back, look at your business, there’s many different areas and many focus points within a business. Let’s just focus on something very simple like procurement. Now, we’re looking at procurement here, and you want to use analytics, you’ve got different types of analytics. You’ve got the operational, you can see what you’re doing right now. You’ve got the business analytics, so you can kind of see what happened, and then you’ve got the other side, the advanced analytics, the predictive side, but it all comes back to our previous point of data. If you haven’t got the data there, then how can you do the advanced analytics. You can’t predict what’s going to happen if you’re not capturing what you need to analyse. So, for instance, to make the best use of analytics, you want to decrease returns. So how do we go about that? Fundamentally as a business strategy, you want to decrease costs on returns. How would you do that? First and foremost, look at the data you have, look at the data you don’t have that will supplement that, and that data can come from many different feeds. I’m not just talking structured data, it might come from online like Twitter, social media, etc. All the different data sets correlating that feedback, analysing what your customers and consumers are saying, there’s many touch points in which the final goal is achieved, but bringing that in and analysing what you have and then analysing what happened. But then, also from the back of that you didn’t understand your customer more, and the feedback they’re saying. Is it the quality of the merchandise? Is it our supplier? Are we buying in goods where the quality isn’t as good as we think it is and the reason why they’re being returned is the human process isn’t right. We’re choosing suppliers based on the cheapest cost rather than quality. So, you start making strategic decisions based on what you know. Again, you need to start capturing this data and for the analytics to be worthwhile, you need a strategy on what particular areas, in particular departments, because it’s not just the business it’s having different segments that you then want to achieve. So, it’s not just one overall strategy that I want to become the best business in the world, it’s specific situations and specific processes in your business that are aligned to your business strategy, that your data strategy aligns to.

Michael Lonnon – 5:32

So, you’ve almost got a case of, you’ve got to get your data strategy right first before you can really think about your analytics strategy that fits into that data strategy. That is then looking at the information and then guiding decisions made as you put there to help to reduce returns, you can’t do anything until you’ve got that data platform in place first.

Dan Knott – 6:00

Absolutely, if you’ve not got a strategy then you’re sort of going into it blind. Then you start just putting together information that you’re getting from one data point: you’re not really having an end goal. You’re like, this is good, I will put this together because it shows me something that A. I already know or B. I think the business may need, but in truth the business may not need that. It’s actually not is it either serving a purpose or is it not? You’re only going to get that by having a strategy and along with strategy it’s also the buying as well. Because with data analytics, there is a disruption to organisations, and it’s a good disruption. The reason for that is, you were changing the way, you’re changing the processes, you’re automating processes, but often you may get a kick back of why are we doing this?

Michael Lonnon – 6:55

Sorry, kick back from where?

Dan Knott – 6:57

From the business, from individuals, from your legacy systems in place. Why are we changing what we’re doing when we’ve known it works? It’s showing the value to organisations. So, the kickback often comes from the why are we doing it? As soon as a strategy is part of that is to then show the value to the business and what the strategy will deliver, or business value.

Michael Lonnon – 7:26

In previous experiences, I found that a lot of organisations tend to not consider enough whether the data they’ve got coming in is fit for purpose. They kind of generally gather as much as they can from every source that they can. They look at this and they then they try and piece it together and from there it becomes a bit of a minefield, because a lot of the data is not particularly needed. It’s not driving the business towards where it’s goals are and it’s not supporting decision making. I think you’d agree that to capture data you’ve got to think about it in advance, you’ve got to think about what you’re getting, what you’re doing is going to be fit for purpose.

Dan Knott – 8:07

An analogy you can compare it to is like a puzzle, a very large puzzle, and trying to piece all that together. The end goal is to complete the puzzle as a business and to get the most value from your data. A lot of organisations in regard to their quality of data, do lack on that front, lots of cleansing of the data, lots of duplication of data. By that Master Data Management, etc. Understanding the one sort of version of your customer like your touch point, as an example there. So absolutely and the point that you’ve made earlier is the value of analytics can only be achieved, from your data, when it’s efficient and the quality of the data that you put in, adds to the value of the business so that they work very much hand in hand.

Michael Lonnon – 9:03

If you had one piece of advice, just one thing, or the first thing that somebody looking to improve the management of data, so they get financial value out of it, what would you say should be the first move for them?

Dan Knott – 9:22

Strategise, and take stock of what you have. Strategy is a buzzword that gets quite often used and is often very vague. What does it mean? It means the first thing I’d always say to an organisation or any customer looking to maximise the value of the data would be, is it part of the overall business strategy. It doesn’t just start and end with what data do we have? It’s what resources do we have? what capabilities technically and functionally within our organisation? There’s a whole piece and probably another area that you can add on around enablement, where you start to look at a technical enablement on these online services. And then you have the functional aspects of new technology, new processes, and how they serve you as a business. I would always say the first step is to define a strategy because without one you’re just guessing. If you don’t have a clear outcome of what you want to get, then as part of that you do look in your rear mirror to see what you do have, but you also want to see where you want to get to. A lot of organisations have probably built their data platform over time and piece it together to suit specific requirements and bolted on additional components as and when they’ve either been acquired, or new services are enabled and so forth. And the amalgamation of that then forms into this sort of cluster of integrations and pipelines and all this data flowing is like a big puzzle. That would take an enormous time to unbox.

Michael Lonnon – 11:37

Dan like is a challenge of getting volume of data of solving a complex puzzle. I once bought a 3d puzzle of Big Ben, lovely idea at a time and lock down would do some strange things to you. But at least the data puzzle is one that always begins at the same place defining your strategy and working out the best way to achieve and aimed at the business from there. Because unless you know where you’re going, you could end up absolutely anywhere or like my 3D puzzle, nowhere. And it really won’t matter how big your investments are in analytics tools, because they’re not giving you a true picture of your business. Thanks for listening. Keep an ear out for more podcasts in the dynamics matter series. Until then, take care of yourself.

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