Leveraging Analytics to Gain Competitive Business Advantage
Cultural issues rather than the technology itself are the biggest impediment to the adoption of analytics.
IBM, as part of its ongoing Smarter Planet campaign, has invested a lot of time and effort in business intelligence and analytics applications, which it sees as a critical area of investment for organizations of all sizes in the years ahead. Unfortunately, a new study of 4,500 business executives from over 120 countries that was conducted by IBM and MIT Sloan Management Review finds that only 24 percent of them are really leveraging these types of applications to their full extent.
The real issue that many companies face when it comes to business intelligence and analytics, says Rebecca Shockley, business analytics and optimization (BAO) global research lead for the IBM Institute for Business Value, is not so much the technology, but rather an internal business culture that relies more on intuition and experience than actual facts to make critical business decisions. And yet, at the same time, we know that business executives bemoan daily the fact that they have to make decisions in the absence of critical information. And yet, when presented with opportunities to gain access to that information, there is resistance within the culture of the company to advanced analytics applications.
It may simply come down to the level of trust organizations have in their IT systems and the people who manage them. It may also be a matter of the perceived expense associated with acquiring those applications and not having the people on hand who can get the most out of them. But whatever the reason, we're a long way from seeing the emergence of businesses that embrace a fact-based decision-making processes versus the "gut-feel" of a business executive who might be mistaking indigestion for insight.
Shockley says there is really only two effective ways to change that culture. The first is when the senior leaders of a company start using an application that forces the rest of the business to follow suit. The second is a grassroots approach that starts within a unit of a line of business that soon gains advantages that the rest of the organization wants to emulate. Regardless of the approach, Shockley says it usually requires some crisis or another for an organization to really start embracing analytics.
But given the current state of the economy, it's also pretty clear that crisis management has become a daily routine within most companies, so there might be no better time than the present to introduce your business counterparts to a new generation of analytics applications because, chances are, there are more than a few of them desperate enough to finally listen.