Debunking the Term Actionable Insights in Analytics


Demystifying the Term Actionable Insights in Analytics

Prashanth H Southekal and Matthew Joyce

These days, the term Actionable Insights has become one of the most common terms utilized in Analytics projects.

Ultimately, Analytics and Actionable Insights particularly in business enterprises are not just about technology or information management activities per-se.


Dr. Prashanth H Southekal is the Managing Principal of DBP Institute (, an Enterprise information analytics company.

Every KPI should have an owner to fix or improve the KPI. Even when the KPIs are defined and dashboards are regularly accessed, there is little clarity on who will own the KPI in achieving the goal. In the above example, who is accountable in reducing the spend in the Engineering Consumables Category? How will the business, IT, and Analytics teams collaborate in achieving the goal? Who will own the goal and drive results? Is it the Procurement Manager, Engineering Manager, or the Category Manager?


3. Optimal Mix

Even today many business leaders believe – more is always better.  They look for an Analytics Dashboard with 60 or even 100 KPIs. Unfortunately, there is a limit on the amount of information the human mind can comprehend or process at a time and certainly the human mind cannot comprehend 60 or more KPIs at a glance. Research done by Psychologist George Miller and many more have proven that human mind can only comprehend 5-9 pieces of information at a time. In other words, the total number of KPIs for a measurement entity should be between 5-9 with a good mix of leading and lagging indicators. And you will be able to select the small set of KPIs only if you have a strong goal and an accountable ownership.


Ultimately, Analytics and Actionable Insights especially in business enterprises are not just about technology or data management activities per-se. Successful Analytics projects also depend on organizational aspects as setting goals, defining ownership, and communicating change are strongly related to change management and people related issues. If these issues are not addressed, Analytics and Actionable Insights hold little water!



Dr. Prashanth H Southekal is the Managing Principal of DBP Institute (, an Enterprise data analytics firm. He brings over 20 years of Data and Analytics Management experience from companies such as SAP AG, Shell, Apple, P&G, and General Electric. Prashanth is the adjunct faculty of Data Analytics at University of Alberta (UoA) and University of Calgary (UoC) and he is also a regular speaker and writer on SAP Ecosystem, Data Analytics, Solution/Data Architecture, & KPI based Dashboards. Apart from his consulting and training pursuits, he is an advisor board member at Grihasoft, a EAM and SCM Data Analytics Company, based in Bangalore, India.  He is the author of the book – Data for Business Performance (DBP) and he is currently working on his next book on Enterprise Analytics.


Matt Joyce is a Solution Specialist at SAS Institute (, the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 70,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by giving customers THE POWER TO KNOW®. Matt has an MA in Economics and specializes in solving business problems using advanced analytics and designing AI solutions across Western Canada. He has delivered numerous value assessment programs to various clients to maximize the use of SAS solutions and services that address customer needs. 


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