Latin America embraces analytics, faces familiar challenges

Parque de la Reserva, Lima, Peru

In traveling and speaking at SAS events in South America this summer -- at SAS Forum Chile in Santiago and at events in Buenos Aries, Argentina and Lima, Peru -- I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with local customers and learn about their progressive organizational approaches.

In talking with these customers, it became evident that their business and IT stakeholders faced similar challenges and priorities. Many have taken significant steps in using analytics and business insight to inform their strategies and business decisions. Still, many are also struggling to promote the proper and consistent use of analytics across all business functions. Few had problems applying analytics in an ad-hoc fashion. Rather, their challenge is applying analytics in a repeatable way, and embedding it as a core component of daily business.

An analytics executive at a major regional content and entertainment company shared with me how they were able to effectively manage and leverage analytical and BI resources through an enterprise Center of Excellence (CoE). They established a CoE to strategically work with business users across the organization. The CoE provides timely and relevant analytical insight while also helping the business users develop their own skills. This is a great example of using a CoE to evolve the maturity level of an organization.

Securing executive buy-in

Business and IT leaders at a regional telco expressed to me a common organizational challenge: how to secure executive buy-in. Telcos around the globe are looking for new ways to generate revenue and develop new products and services. The team in this case explored steps needed to evolve their organization, and had a general understanding of the required transformation journey. But they were struggling to secure buy-in from executives to support the effort.

Their struggle underscores the need to go to the very top of the chain of command to present a compelling case for business transformation. Although everyone in the organization, including executives, understands the need to transform the business to survive, moving beyond old approaches and getting agreement on how and when to start can be challenging.

Another challenge for organizations that have started using analytics is to figure out how go to the next level. Several customers I talked with asked how to identify the “starting point.” One particular company has been using analytics in a few business areas, but not consistently. Business and market challenges sparked internal discussions about the need to use analytics in a consistent way, but they didn’t know where to start.

Selecting a starting point

This is another common challenge facing many organizations. Whether your company is new to analytics, or your organization has enjoyed profitable business for many years and done well with a combination of business insight and gut feel, you need select your starting point carefully.

Since your starting point will be watched carefully, often with some skepticism, you must choose an area that:

  • Addresses a visible business priority
  • Has sufficient historical data with reasonable quality
  • Has the appropriate skills and support from all business and IT stakeholders to deliver results quickly
  • Will have the participation of business decision makers

It was a busy summer in Latin America, and I also had the chance to share my thoughts with local magazines and newspapers. Two examples from those interviews are Information Technology [Argentina]: No hay restricciones para la analítica, and TrendTIC [Chile]: Entrevista Aiman Zeid Sobre Analítica y Su Importancia en Las Empresas. Espero que te guste.

Photo by Miguel Vera León // attribution by creative commons



About Author

Aiman Zeid

Head of Organizational Transformation Services, SAS Global Business Consulting

Aiman Zeid has helped numerous organizations on four continents evaluate their organizational maturity and readiness to deploy business analytics. His focus on enterprise-wide approaches has made him a sought after consultant for starting Business Analytics Centers of Excellence. His new book, Business Transformation: A Roadmap for Maximizing Organizational Insights, shares a structured approach for organizations to achieve maximum value from their data. Zeid has 29 years of experience in information management, business consulting and technical implementation of business analytics and performance management solutions. He holds an MBA and a BS in engineering (computer science diploma) from George Washington University. Prior to joining SAS he worked as a consultant for Battelle Institute and the Hay Group.

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