Mind the [analytical] gap with data visualisation

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Use data visualisation to bridge the analytical gap in your organization

It’s no secret that big data offers organisations a real opportunity to gain competitive advantage, open up new revenue streams and increase efficiency. Yet, while some are charging ahead, others are falling behind. The past two years have seen an 80 per cent jump in organisations believing analytics provides a competitive advantage, but only 11 per cent were classed as ‘analytical innovators’ by MIT in a recent piece of research about analytic culture. Of the 2,500 companies surveyed, 60 per cent are ‘analytics practitioners’ while 29 per cent are ‘analytically challenged’.

The MIT research showed businesses in the UK are more ‘analytically challenged’ than those elsewhere: even worse, when it comes to using data to make key business decisions, many in the UK are still relying heavily on intuition (aka ‘guessing’).  From our experience, we know that many organisations are still getting to grips with their big data, but it’s disappointing to see the UK lagging so far behind the rest of the world.

For example, only 18 per cent of UK respondents rely mostly or entirely on data to establish objectives and strategy for their organisation, compared to 31 per cent globally. In addition, in the UK a surprising 40 per cent say they rely mostly or entirely on intuition when it comes to enhancing a customer's overall experience, compared to just 27 per cent of total respondents globally.

To bridge this analytical gap, ‘challenged’ organisations need to give business users the power to make smarter decisions much more quickly by applying analytics to their big data. But one of the biggest issues businesses today face is that most don’t have the in-house expertise to perform the data analysis and manipulation needed to answer the questions the business is asking.

A recent survey by IDG Research about big data analytics revealed that enterprises cite as significant challenges both their lack of analytical skills and their inability to make big data available to users. Investment in initiatives to up-skill the UK workforce (SAS’ Student Academy among them) is on the rise, but these will take time to yield results. Organisations don’t have the luxury of time – they need to work out how they can extract value from their data today.

Data visualisation is key here: if an organisation can’t easily identify and act quickly on both opportunity and risk, they will start to lose competitive advantage. Lost revenue, shrinking market share, reduced shareholder value, and even legal consequences can result from not seeing the relationships between different variables and missing the gems hidden in their data.

Tools like SAS Visual Analytics deliver accessible insights to anyone, from business users with limited technical skills to statisticians and data scientists. If you can identify and act quickly on an opportunity or a risk, you can use that knowledge to drive real competitive advantage. By putting the data - and the power to analyse that data - into the hands of business users, you can start to bridge the analytical gap.

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About Author

Rob McManus

Head of Visual Analytics, SAS UK & Ireland

Rob McManus is responsible for leading and co-ordinating all activities around Visual Analytics in the the UK and Ireland. Prior to joining SAS, Rob spent 16 years working at Oracle, initially in the UK Consulting Business and then as part of the EMEA Consulting Leadership team. The impending arrival of a second set of twins led Rob to move back to the UK where he helped to found the Oracle UK Technology Insight Team and promptly caught the business value bug. In 2010, Rob joined SAS UK as Head of Business Value, bringing to the world of advanced analytics his passion for how organizations can use technology to drive business value. Rob started his career as a graduate with Price Waterhouse Management Consulting Services. He holds an MA in Literae Humaniores from the University of Oxford. He lives in rural Buckinghamshire with his large family and unruly dog.

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