The role of analytics is becoming an integral part of enterprise operations across every industry, but many companies are having to overcome internal change barriers to fully realise their return on analytics investments. Organisations need to start integrating analytics into the business process at a point where data can influence and inform decisions.
According to research carried out by Accenture and MIT, companies tend to select the best analytics technologies only to find that their organisation’s ability for change limits their chances of success. Businesses must therefore be more proactive and decisive in managing the cultural shift required to embed analytics into their day-to-day processes to compete and deliver tangible results.
Addressing barriers of transformation
The data deluge inundating the business world is offering feasible opportunities for many organisations and those that turn data into action will be best placed to succeed. Accenture’s research shows that 92 percent of high performers can account for a significant return on investment (ROI) from analytics, versus only 24 percent of low performers experiencing disappointing results and less than expected ROI. It is evident that analytics should be a key ingredient in the planning and decision-making process. This is also important in order to reduce the role that individuals biases or opinions can negatively impact business decision making.
One of the greatest hurdles for most corporations is the process of cultural change. An organisation’s inability to transition to insight powered decision making is primarily due to a cultural issue, with organisations underestimating the need for a cultural shift and the need to address who they are at the core - their cultural DNA. In addition, employees within the organisation need to be consulting analytics to ensure that data driven decisions are consistently made. This will require growing the data analytics expertise within the organisation and looking to the broader ecosystem of partners, which could be utilised to eject expertise into the organisation.
While technological constraints once defined the pace at which analytics could innovate, companies are now discovering that it is their own capacity for change that defines their ability to deliver at speed. Business adoption of analytics requires addressing issues of organisational alignment and change management, taking into consideration people, communication and identifying the critical business questions that will drive business value and address the critical human and organisational issues.
Change is paramount
The opportunity to deploy analytics has increased the speed at which companies can tap into new markets with new solutions and quickly challenge well-established competitors. Firms like Amazon, Google, eBay, Airbnb, Uber and Facebook which are at the forefront of the Digital Economy and rooted in analytics, were able to re-define their cultures and leverage new data driven business models that went on to transform entire industry sectors. They engaged their businesses to focus on areas where quick wins could be achieved, they invested in better understanding of stakeholder landscape and the potential impact they could bring to the retail, media and travel industries by leveraging insights through analytics.
The analytics change journey for businesses aims to reshape how decisions are made, with the cultural change being the first main goal. The focus on evolving the cultural aspect of the organisation and embedding analytics in decision making in a way that makes it part of the cultural DNA can help the organisation justify its analytics investments. Without this cultural shift, companies that invest in the best talent, latest technologies and analytics will still face problems in achieving the best returns from such investments. Building an analytics driven culture is of paramount importance and essential if the organisation wants to deliver tangible results over time.
Return on analytics investments
Mainstream companies need to culturally adapt and transform in response to the opportunity and challenges presented by analytics, otherwise they risk falling behind and becoming relics of the past. To maximise return on analytics investments, organisations need to learn how to be both disciplined and proactive, when managing the cultural change required to power analytics transformation. In the very near future, every organisation will rely far more on analytics to support the human judgement we bring to business processes.
Business leaders in Australia and New Zealand are beginning to understand the importance of tapping into their dark data and using analytics. However, to achieve success, the next step is to start investing in the technology to make that happen.
Amit Bansal is applied intelligence lead at Accenture Australia.