Where are you going next with business analytics?


A lot of technology conferences are celebratory in nature. They showcase new products, highlight customer successes and provide a platform for authors, analysts and industry experts to praise these accomplishments. To be sure, there was plenty to celebrate at the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference. But this year’s conference - more than any I’ve attended recently - seemed less focused on where we’ve been and more focused on where we’re going.

Maybe it’s the spring Seattle weather. Or the hopeful anticipation of economic recovery. Or the promise of new partnerships and collaborations. Whatever the cause, there’s an overarching feeling that 2010 is a year of beginnings.

Almost everyone I talked to at the conference, from a VP of CRM at a global retail chain to a director of information resources at a large – and growing – state university, was talking about plans for business analytics in the future. Even the presenters and panelists throughout the conference, who were chosen for leadership in applying predictive analytics to their organizations, seemed just as excited to talk about the next phases of their projects as they were to talk about the business results they’ve already seen.

I’m talking about presenters who saw double-digit marketing response rates and million-dollar returns on their fraud detection efforts. And they’re not even close to being done. They plan to apply these same results to other lines of the business. They intend to further integrate results back into operational systems. They are investigating high-performance computing options to optimize their use of IT resources. They’re all thinking about what’s next.

Dave Rich, Managing Director for Accenture Analytics, calls this moving beyond “The What” to the next phase of asking, “So What?” And, “Now What?” Across industries, he says, “We’ve seen a lot of clients consumed with getting their arms around the data, and now they’re ready to embed analytics into business processes and make information available where it’s needed.”

In summary: “Enterprise analytics are the next killer app,” declares Dave.

Marriott International, Inc. is one example of company that’s already seeing success with enterprise analytics. “We’re modeling and data processing across portfolio,” says Mike Keppler, Senior Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing and Revenue Management Systems at Marriott. Speaking on a conference panel titled, "Realizing the Power of Analytics," Mike mentions results in the areas of sales and distribution, marketing, CRM and revenue management.

Mike’s tips for business analytics success include:
• Understanding your culture.
• Focusing on business objectives.
• Planning across departments.
• Underpinning reports with quality data and analytics.

But Mike’s advice is also focused on the future. “Be relentless that tomorrow is going to be a better day for this company. It doesn’t matter if you’re in charge or if you’re part of team. It doesn’t matter how successful you already are. Bring that kind of motivation to the table, so no matter where you are in the process, the rest of the conversation is about where you’re going next.”


About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.

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