Why Outliers are so important for your future

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Why Outliers are so important for your future

With a platform integrating your data streams you will be able to embrace and evaluate the critical nuts and bolts of your business. You can analyse everything; from financials to staff rotas and shifts: facilities to customer headcount and feedback. And investigate and understand all of the factors which drive or detract from your profitability.


All your data is in one place. You have your single version of the truth…


Or do you?


Finding the needles in the haystack


You are receiving large volumes of data at high frequency. But can you be sure that you are being presented with the whole picture? What you need to ensure is a platform that alerts you to the unusual that lays beyond the headline data. One that focuses on locations that are different to the rest. Those that can make a key difference to your business and make your time management far more effective.


Where do you look first?


This is where outliers come into play. An outlier is an issue in your business waiting to be discovered. Effectively a needle in a haystack. The sort of valuable insight that could otherwise be lost in amongst the high level aggregate data. Typically outliers are hard to spot – especially small localised issues. Once identified you can determine the root cause; and take action that is beneficial; whether that be prescriptive or precautionary.


Why are outliers so important?


Outliers reveal under or over performance. Consider this scenario…


You analyse sales for five locations in your business. The results are representative of the percentages you might expect, however, in one store a particular product is massively underselling; while another is over performing. At a glance there is nothing wrong – in reality there is an issue.


Is it a one-off phenomenon or part of a discernible trend? Looking deeper you discover the root causes. There are no staff in the location with the appropriate training modules in the undersold product. For the product that over performed, there was a volume deal in place with clear sales targets and incentives – for which the staff were very well briefed. This highlights clear issues regarding your training and staffing. The insight gained can be rolled out across your business to prevent the problem arising elsewhere in the future

Avoid going round in circles searching for these needles in a haystack. The need for speed is not just in collecting lots of data, but in doing something with it – only faster.

Going beyond the norm to find the 5%


As outliers are outside of your expected control points, they are typically used to compare and contrast performance. Most companies will check out their top ten and bottom ten of locations for differentiators. It’s time to turn that around. The fact is you will always have a bottom ten, regardless. Beyond the obviously defined, it might be issues in other locations that could be quickly addressed; that when combined, make a bigger difference to your business than anything learned from the traditional location data targets and aggregations.


The value of outliers goes beyond the analysis of data that is collected from your network of sites – whether that be 50, 250, or far more. The concept of outliers means focusing on the 5% – not the top or the bottom. It’s in this 5% where there is a hidden issue; a masked truth about your business that is currently unwittingly missed, or swept under the carpet by staff.


Flagging up issues from this small but highly significant source can be crucial to your future strategy. Once you understand what has driven the outlier alert you can comment and share insights – such as best practice – with your team and the wider business. Any insight gained reinforces the connection of these outliers to the wellbeing of your business network as a whole.


Data caught in speed traps


Avoid going round in circles searching for these needles in a haystack. The need for speed is not just in collecting lots of data, but in doing something with it – only faster. You could waste an entire promotional product cycle by being too slow in responding – especially when it can take two weeks to receive a report to act upon from a data analyst.


You have identified a needle in the haystack with your new platform. Perhaps you see sales are up in one item in a specific outlier? Selling more of this product across all of your locations is an obvious aim. However, the reality of quickly changing this throughout your business and matching the speed in which this insight is delivered could be very challenging.


Nevertheless, incorporating insight into your strategy, monitoring improvements and building the future of your business will only be a successful process if actionable insight from outliers extends right down to the shop floor level.


How do you overcome your biggest challenge and travel this last mile?

Simon Boydell

Simon Boydell is Marketing Director at didici. Having spent over a decade working with businesses to help them improve their customer experiences, Simon is now helping shape how didici can take business intelligence to a new level and help businesses predict and prove out a return on investment with their strategic decisions.