What's the No. 1 barrier to analytics success?


DataScienceTeamAs the age old idiom goes, the early bird gets the worm and the early adopter gets the break. New technologies give clear advantages to those organisations that figure out before their early-adopting competitors how to use them effectively, an advantage that recedes as others catch up, and the technology becomes mainstream.

Whether it's the invention of the spinning machine during the industrial revolution, Ford’s adoption of the moving assembly line transforming car manufacturing, or city traders feverishly gaining computing speed for millisecond long advantages – being early can be the difference between success and missing the boat altogether. Consider Blockbuster Video, HMV, BlackBerry etc. ... just a few of the many sob stories from businesses that moved too little, too late.

Analytics, while still a significant source of competitive advantage, is showing signs of having peaked as a competitive differentiator. In short, the use of analytics has become mainstream. However, what we’re now seeing is a new kind of gap emerging. Not between the adopters and the non-adopters but in enterprises’ ability to apply what they’ve adopted. The distinction is in how effectively organisations can consume analytical insights.

Working with MIT Sloan Management Review, SAS has produced a report on the barriers to creating business value from analytics. It found that the foremost barrier is not data management or complex modelling skills, but the ability to translate analytics into business actions.

To date, many organisations have focused on producing analytic content, and more recently on finding effective ways to present that information through data visualisation. However, access does not automatically translate to understanding. Businesses need to get better at consuming and applying analytic insights.

According to the survey of more than 2,500 executives and analytics professionals, those organisations that reported greater use of complex analytics were also more likely to report that their companies gained competitive advantage from it. Sophisticated analysis was taking them ahead of the pack, but also raised business-critical skills and education challenges where it outpaced managers own analytical comfort zones.

In an increasingly data driven environment, many executives find that they must make critical decisions based on analyses that use data and statistical methods that they do not fully understand. As analytical methods become more pervasive, and become even more sophisticated, this challenge will only grow. Yet these decisions still need to be made.

So how do managers and businesses build confidence in making this leap of faith? For more insight into how organisations can overcome the analytics consumption gap, and ensure they have the appropriate analytical talent within their organisation, take a look at the full report about barriers to analytics success.


About Author

Dr. Laurie Miles

Director, Global Cloud Analytics

Laurie Miles is a Global Director of Cloud Analytics, providing analytical advice and thought leadership globally across all industry verticals. He brings over 25 years of real-world analytics experience to the role. After joining SAS in 1996, Laurie was a consultant delivering analysis focussed projects to organisations from a variety of industry sectors including financial services, telecommunications, retail and utilities. He became SAS UK’s Head of Retail Banking Technology in 2000. Laurie was later appointed Head of Analytics for SAS UK & Ireland in 2008, working with some of the UK’s largest organisations providing strategic advice and forming industry best practice. In this role Laurie also pioneered the development of the SAS Analytics-as-a-Service solution, “SAS Results”. In January 2015 was appointed to lead this globally as part of the SAS Cloud Analytics proposition. Laurie holds a BSc in Econometrics, an MSc in Game Theory and a PhD in Number Theory.

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