In March 2017, Dun & Bradstreet and Forbes Insights explored the current state of analytics adoption across the enterprise via a survey of more than 300 executives in North America, the U.K. and Ireland across a range of industries. A recent report, “Analytics Accelerates Into the Mainstream,” sponsored by Dun & Bradstreet, analyzes the survey results.
Some key takeaways:
Finish analysis, get to action. It is no longer enough to champion sophisticated data and analytics strategies to the C-suite. Analytics is no longer a “nice to have.” This survey illustrates that analytics has very high, cross-functional adoption across the entire best-in-class enterprise. Senior executives are understanding the need to invest in the people, processes and technologies that empower insights-based decision making and decision automation to keep pace with their peers or leapfrog the competition.
Analytics expertise required. Of those surveyed across business functions, 27% cited skills gaps as a major obstacle to their current data and analytics efforts. More than half of the organizations surveyed use outside partners for some or all of their analytics needs. In fact, 55% of those companies reported working with third-party partners to address the lack of skills. This strongly indicates a need for skilled data analysts across the enterprise spectrum. Sixty percent of respondents who use outside partners stated that internal staff did not have bandwidth for the analytics needs of their companies. Bringing in outside partners with analytics as a core competency enables organizations to scale up and scale down while adding critical capabilities.
Demand for data insights growing across all major industries and disciplines. The demand for data insights appears to be almost evenly distributed across a variety of industries. Manufacturing leads the pack with the most demand but is closely followed by technology, retail, financial services and insurance.
New use cases arise. An intriguing and enlightening perspective was revealed when the survey explored respondents’ value perceptions in advanced analytics use cases. Emerging analytics categories like geolocation, cyber security and the Internet of Things (IoT) all scored well, and 33% expressed interest in responsible business analytics covering key areas, including human trafficking and sustainability.
The impact of digitization on the enterprise has only just begun. IoT. Digital transformation. The consumerization of B2B. Pick any of the disruptive initiatives and what happens? Enormous amounts of data are generated. And unfortunately, while enterprises have spent billions to address infrastructure, workflow and transactional frameworks, many have not scaled their analytics solutions to derive insights and actionable intelligence from the growing onslaught of data.
Sophisticated analytics adoption seems to be taking some time, as 40% of companies surveyed are still using basic technology like dashboards and spreadsheets for analysis and reporting. This suggests that much of the analytics work being done today remains fairly basic.
Anticipatory analytics techniques have only been implemented by 15% of respondents, while predictive models that integrate internal and external data have been implemented by only 17% of respondents. This indicates that there is some competitive upside for companies that get ahead of competitors and start basing future business decisions on more sophisticated data sets and analyses.
Sophisticated analysis requires robust applications and high-performance data environments, and many companies have yet to make those investments. Exacerbating the situation is the difficulty of finding analytical talent with the sufficient skills and experience to create models and queries in order to make the most of advanced analytical applications.
Surprisingly in this business environment, where big data and analytics are being heralded as the new gold rush, only 45% of all companies surveyed are doing analytics at all—with 39% using a combination of internal and external resources, and 16% actually outsourcing the entire function. When we delved into the primary drivers of the outsourcing decision, it revealed a desire to have access to proven talent and best practices. In fact, 55% of the companies that outsourced felt their partners were delivering a superior work product, and 52% of them felt that outside providers helped them compete more effectively.