Lori Sherer: Data Strategy

Despite higher levels of investment, many companies lack a clear strategy for winning in data and analytics. Lori Sherer, a partner with Bain's Advanced Analytics practice, shares three strategies for companies looking to productively invest in data and analytics to drive business performance.

Read the Bain Brief: With Advanced Analytics, It’s People (Not Data) That Stand in the Way of Change

Read the transcript below.

LORI SHERER: Every CEO around the world, across all industries, is concerned about being able to leverage data and analytics to drive business performance. In our work with companies around the world and across all industries, we've learned a few things about what it takes to be successful at this. The first thing is business science before data science. The business strategy has to lead the priorities for data and analytics.

So for example, if you're a consumer packaged goods company, like Coca-Cola, you're mostly concerned with your brand and your brand image. Coca-Cola is using sophisticated social media listening tools to monitor those influencers who can have the greatest impact on the brand. An e-commerce company with 30,000 SKUs that has to compete on price is using data and analytics and machine learning to dynamically price their products. With 30,000 SKUs, this could not be done with humans alone.

The second thing we've learned is that more data is not necessarily better. And in fact, a simpler solution that is designed with the end users in mind is going to win out 100% of the time. The fact of the matter is, it isn't about data. It's about the people who have to trust these tools and who have to change the way they do their jobs to incorporate these tools. And that can often be the trickiest part of implementing data and analytics.

The third thing we've learned is test and learn. Again, start with a simple solution and iterate. Put the data feedback loops in place that allow you to actually see the results—what's working, what's not working. Monitor the behavior of the people—who's using it, who's rejecting it and so on. Test and learn is the way to start with something simple, iterate and eventually come up with something that could be competitively differentiated.

Read the Bain Brief: With Advanced Analytics, It’s People (Not Data) That Stand in the Way of Change