Yes, It’s True: Big Data and Analytics Separate the Winners from the Losers
Since we are a big data and analytics company, we spend quite a bit of time talking about “value.” To us, the analytics payoff is quite clear because we see it in action every day with the companies and organizations we work with. But this is our industry so I can understand that what we say as a vendor in this space may be subject to a wee bit of skepticism. That’s why independent surveys are so important and the recent results of the MIT Sloan Management Review certainly shine a light on the importance of analytics. Now, if you have some time I urge you to read the full report but if not, not to worry as I will summarize the highlights and inject some of my thoughts as well.
One of the most important findings in the survey: “Top performing organizations use analytics five times more than lower performers.” This is not surprising as I can pretty much predict (anecdotally of course) which prospects will pursue analytics solutions and my prediction rests on whether they are top performers in their industries. If they are, they are constantly on the lookout for ways to further differentiate themselves from the pack, they embrace change, and they are not afraid of the “unknown.” These companies and their management teams are fully committed to making data-driven decisions and are on the lookout for how to take advantage of disruptions—whether that disruption is a new competitor, an act of nature that impacts a supply chain, or an unhappy customer about to change vendors. (By the way, disruptions are why streaming analytics are so important—you can react far more quickly to changes.)
What else did the top performers have in common? An understanding that analytics and the “insights” they delivered have to be infused into the DNA of the company. In other words, no operation, function, or process is exempt from “change.” You must be able to roll with the punches and implement changes whenever and wherever they are called for.
Another finding that may surprise you: it’s not the sheer amount of data that is the most challenging issue to overcome. Rather, it’s the managerial and corporate culture issues that make the adoption of analytic solutions difficult. Certainly, when we talk to prospects we find that they often intellectually understand the power of analytics and how it can positively impact their business but get caught up in shifting priorities. In other words, yes, we need to do this on Monday, oh I have a fire that needs to be put out on Tuesday, yes, we need to do this on Wednesday, oh I have a problem with my supply chain on Thursday, yes, we need to do this on Friday, and so on. When we encounter this, we often use the word commitment; if you are willing to commit to integrating analytics into your business, you can attend to the shifting priorities but keep analytics top-of-mind. If you can’t commit, you’re not ready. Simple as that.
Finally, I will end with this survey recommendation: “Within each opportunity start with questions, not data.” Sound counter-intuitive? Not really. We have found that companies often fall into a data stupor, spending too much time thinking about how to collect, clean, and aggregate it. They spend very little time thinking about what they’d like to know. That’s why our motto is: Care less about the data. It’s what you do with it that matters.
It’s clear that big data and analytics are here to stay. My question for you: are you going to be a winner or a loser?