Our latest ebook, How to Prepare for BI and Analytics. This is part two of a two part overview of what you’ll find in the ebook. If you’re interested, here’s part one.

Last week we covered the importance of understanding your data and your systems. This week, we’re covering the importance of defining your goals and keeping your audience in mind.

Choose what to measure

One of the most important things you can do for your analytics goals is to figure out what your analytics goals actually are. Many organizations expect they’ll get an analytics tool and their business will magically start running better. While this approach might open your eyes to a few things, you’ll probably be disappointed in the long run. Furthermore, without a specific goal, you can spend a long time building charts and visualizations you don’t really need. In a way, analytics is like a microscope. If you just jump in and look down the lens, you’ll end up looking for meaning in a bunch of fuzzy blobs. However, if you know what you’re looking for, it can help you understand things on a much deeper level.

Generally speaking, the best approach is to start small. You might have grand designs for analyzing every last aspect of your business, but your first priority is to replace the numbers and reports you were using before. Take it slow, keep things simple, and let your visualizations and dashboards evolve over time.

Learn about your audience

Unless you’re the only person at your company using analytics, you need to keep your audience in mind. You might be a wiz when it comes to reading visualizations, but if no one else can understand them, they won’t do much good. This is another great reason to start slow and keep things simple. It gives people time to understand what each chart means and how they can use it.

Talk to people in your audience, learn about their specific role, and ask them if there’s a metric that could make their job easier. Too many people spend hours building out a visualization only to find the intended audience doesn’t like it, need it, or use it. Talking to your audience doesn’t just save time, it also helps you get buy in. Instead of someone forcing an analytics tool on a department, the department gets a tool they truly asked for.

This is just an overview of what’s covered in How to Prepare for BI and Analytics. For in-depth advice, including several time-saving shortcuts, you’ll have to download the ebook. It’s a 22-page guide full of almost everything you need to know to prepare for analytics, and it’s available now.