3 Steps to Turn Analytics into Actionable Insights

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Steps to turn analytics into actionable insights

Companies might understand the value of data, but they often lack the ability to turn it into actionable insights. In the corporate library setting, information managers are tasked with making content decisions for their organizations and they need analytics to support their historical knowledge.

That said, it’s not always easy. According to a report by Forrester, 74% of firms say they want to be data-driven, however just 29% are successfully transforming analytics data into business actions.

Other research by Interana reveals that 70% of organizations feel they neither get critical insights from their data nor do they get data into the hands of the right individuals.

So, when did actionable insights become the missing link between data and successful business outcomes, and how can information managers glean these insights to justify content spend?

Actionable insights explained

Before we can answer this question, we need to be able to answer the question: What is an “actionable insight?”

The starting point is data – the raw, unprocessed facts that take the form of numbers and text and generally live in spreadsheets and databases. Once that data has been processed and organized into a more user-friendly format it becomes information. By analyzing that information and drawing conclusions, insights can be generated.

As Techopedia explains: “once there is enough insight that a proper course of action can be made from it, then this result is considered as an actionable insight.” Insights that make business leaders rethink an idea or push them into a new direction are particularly valuable.

For example, for a corporate librarian a list of top content users may be helpful from a practical standpoint. It will help him or her understand who uses content and at what cost. But for stakeholders, who are less interested in day-to-day content use, this may not be considered actionable.

Taking it a step further, what if there was list of top content users and their associated division over the past three years? The data quickly becomes more than just a list of names, but trend information about what divisions use the most content, and how that has changed year-over-year. This data is actionable to stakeholders who may want to invest in certain divisions where heavy research is being done.

And if this supports organizational goals? Even better.

How to spot an actionable insight

To deem an insight “actionable” look for at least one of these five qualifications:

  • Alignment: Insights should be closely tied to key business goals.
  • Context: You need to understand why an insight is important or unique.
  • Relevance: If insights aren’t directed to the right decision makers, they might not get the consideration they deserve.
  • Specificity: An insight is incomplete unless it explains why something has happened.
  • Novelty: Successful insights will challenge or evolve our current beliefs and reveal new patterns.

How to turn raw content usage data into actionable insights

As information managers, the content usage data that you need to showcase can vary depending on who you’re speaking to, or what you’re trying to convey.

Professionals across departments all share the goal of working to overcome today’s data deluge. Luckily, there are several things organizations can do to turn raw data into the kind of insights needed to make more strategic business decisions.

1. Recognize different types of data analytics

Integrating analytics into business systems can be challenge, so it’s important to understand what you are dealing with.

As a rule of thumb, make sure you identify what types of data analytics you’re working with. These could be:

  • Descriptive: what the problem is
  • Diagnostic: why the problem has happened
  • Predictive: what will happen
  • Prescriptive: identifying the best course of action

2. Measure what matters

Unless you identify the business problem you are trying to solve, you won’t measure what’s relevant. With measurement comes optimization. Don’t get lost in the data that could be considered “vanity metrics” – look instead for real-time, high fidelity data. Not sure where to begin? Ask your stakeholders what they need to see.

RelatedWhat Types of Usage Data do Information Managers Actually Want? [Research]

3. Put your data into context

The more you understand the context of your data, the better you interpret it, and the more strategic the subsequent decisions will be. You can establish context by asking what data means, establishing its level of importance, and understanding its impact on the business.

Benefits to business

The benefits of content analytics data are clear. Not only does it allow you to identify the trends that capture best practices and raise potential issues, it also increases productivity and optimizes content investment.

In order to get the insights you’re looking for, you have to have a clear idea of your goals beforehand.

While an information manager may be able to collate a top-line report, someone else in the organization might have a different way of interpreting it. Not only does this unlock the potential for gaining actionable insights, it also promotes greater collaboration across the company.

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Casey Pickering

Author: Casey Pickering

Casey Pickering is CCC's product manager for RightFind® Business Intelligence, the content analytics module of RightFind. A passionate Boston sports fan, Casey is a graduate of Northeastern University and enjoys spending time outside with her husband and Bernese mountain dog, Riggins.  

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