CEO of ZenOptics and technology entrepreneur with a passion for identifying transformational ideas and building them into strong companies.
I recently found my way out of an escape room for the first time and underestimated how it would be a powerful experience. If you are unfamiliar, an escape room is an interactive event where you pay to be locked in a room. To escape, you have to solve a series of puzzles and challenges within a certain time. These rooms have gained popularity in recent years, with more than 2,000 only in the US, and it’s easy to see why. The experience forces you to think in new ways, be creative and work as a team to quickly achieve a result: a key to unlock the room.
When my team solved the last clue, it dawned on me that many companies spend their entire day in an “enterprise escape room” looking for information (understanding reports), wasting precious time going astray (accessing inaccurate , incomplete or outdated data), and suffer from a lack of coordination. Not only is this frustrating, but it’s morally destructive for teams across the enterprise. Instead of using the power of analytics to increase business impact, employees often stop using it business intelligence platforms and analytics tools at all. In reality, 97% of data leaders report that ignoring data has had significant consequences for their business, from lost revenue opportunities and poor investments to substandard performance forecast.
However, spending on data and analytics solutions is expected to reach $274 billion this year as companies look for ways to make better, faster decisions. This investment, coupled with a chaotic reporting environment, is like being stuck with no escape in sight – you have the brightest minds in the room and all the tools at your disposal, but your teams can’t cut through the complexity to get results.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. By applying the same strategies that an escape room uses to leverage analytics, enterprises can find a logical way to reduce report clutter and turn complexity into collaboration.
Lessons learned from a great escape
If you can’t find a simple answer in an escape room, it’s probably because not all the information you need has been revealed. With the average employee expenses 3.6 hours a day when looking for information, employees may struggle to find what they need to get ahead. You can help your employees quickly discover different reports, dashboards, spreadsheets, and PDFs to increase productivity by consolidating information and simplifying access to insights.
One way to do this is with an analysis catalog. (Full disclosure: My company has created an Analytic Catalog, but there are a number of other options on the market.) An Analytic Catalog helps enterprises simplify access to and use of tools and assets. This approach simplifies the user interface, giving more employees the analytics access they need.
When implementing a catalog of analytics, I recommend starting small by focusing on a specific team or function. Understand the tools and reports they use most often and optimize that experience. By going through this exercise, you will learn who needs access and how they use the tools and resources.
An alternative to having a catalog of analys is a systematic, centralized approach to how all analytic assets are stored, tagged with relevant metadata, shared and accessed. This is often referred to as a data inventory or data map. By taking this approach, a company can establish supervisory authority, define the categorization, catalog the assets, perform quality checks and manage access. One of its main goals is to remove duplicate or obsolete assets and make it quick and easy for employees to find what they’re looking for. This requires clear ownership of the various assets, governance and a consistent approach to how assets are organized. To fully use the BI tools, you need tight integration and a seamless user experience. While this manual approach requires the right resources and focus, it can be done.
Divide and conquer
When you enter an escape room, it seems like everything is a clue. The trick is to divide and rule by assigning each team member a section so they can analyze what’s ahead and share details as they arise. This approach also applies to businesses, and when you: streamline your analytics usage, you can enable employees to easily share assets between teams. By targeting a valuable source of truth, users from marketing and sales to product development and beyond can easily find relevant reports to simplify analysis work and decision making.
Organize your assets to make quick decisions
To escape, you must think ahead to plan your next move wisely. The same is true at the enterprise level, so make sure you give your employees the right insights to enable them to make decisions quickly and confidently that can have a significant impact on their business. When you bring all your BI and analytics assets together in one place, employees gain insight into the entire ecosystem. The result? The ability to personalize an experience not limited by the tool generating reports, but rather in the context of work to be done.
Communicate and collaborate
Communication is crucial to moving forward, and cooperation between players makes an escape possible. Encourage your team members to share information, focus on what’s holding you back from moving forward, and raise flags or newly discovered insights. This is invaluable for both succeeding in escape rooms and driving business results.
Ultimately, agile companies allow their employees to focus on solving problems, using their skills and completing tasks. To gain a competitive advantage and promote a positive employee experience, it’s time for companies to free themselves from cumbersome reporting processes in favor of efficiency, consistency and transparency. And while the chance of solving an escape room is small 41%overcoming the complexity of analytics is a foolproof solution.