Help Wanted: Business Intelligence Officers

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Analytics and the Path to Value

When it comes to business, information is clearly power.

When it comes to deploying analytic applications there's a surprisingly high amount of resistance in the business community that stems from a reluctance to give up relying on intuition and gut instinct.


Many business executives take pride in their ability to sense market directions and their track records based on gut reactions. As a result, they tend to shy away from anything that relies too much on numbers to drive business decisions.


And yet, a new survey from IBM and the MIT Sloan Management Review finds that top performing companies time and again make much broader use of analytics than other companies. So the question is: Given the success of these companies, why isn't there broader adoption of analytics software?


According to the survey results, it turns out that most companies appear to just lack any real experience with analytics. This may be as a result of the cost of deploying analytics or the simple fact that they may not have access to anyone on staff who is sufficiently trained enough to derive any real value out of investing in analytic software.


According to Steve Lavalle, strategy leader for IBM's Business Analytics and Optimization business unit, the only way to really fix this problem is to start putting people on the business side in charge of analytics. This doesn't mean putting someone in charge of deploying business intelligence and analytics software; that's the job of the IT department. What it means is forming a group within the company that functions as the business equivalent of an intelligence agency. It would be the task of this group to not only discover business-relevant intelligence, but also to master all the capabilities inherent in analytics applications.


The good news is that the cost of gathering this information should be dropping with the rise of analytics-as-a-service (AaaS) in the cloud. It's becoming increasingly clear that it's more cost-effective to run compute-intensive applications in a cloud model that allow the cost of accessing those applications and the expertise needed to run them to be shared across multiple companies.



But until businesses generally start putting actual people in charge of the intelligence gathered by these applications, the value of analytics to the business will continue to only be realized by the select few companies that have the acumen to make business decisions based on insights derived from real knowledge, versus those that continue to rely on intuition and the luck of the gambler.



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