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Griffin: Market research and analytics give a competitive edge

JANUARY 11, 2012 – No matter what sector your company operates in or to what purpose it applies its data, analytics and market research are becoming bigger topics in the business world. In a column for Information Management, Jan Griffin of Deloitte describes some of her recent conversations with executives, which have focused on their companies’ analytics needs and how they see analytics progressing in the future.

She said a common theme among CEOs and so-called pundits “was the increasing sophistication of analytics software and the need for a simplified approach to presenting the results of complex analysis.” While she notes that vendors of this technology have worked to make the platforms more user-friendly, other studies have shown that there is still a dissonance between what the software is capable of and many companies’ levels of understanding.

Griffin identifies another trend in mobility, which is affecting all aspects of business processes, including access to analytic data. As smartphones and other mobile devices become increasingly sophisticated and refined, being able to read and apply business intelligence from anywhere is a necessity, she says.

“It helps executives achieve true collaboration – no matter the location or the time – with analytics delivered via mobile technology,” Griffin explains. “With mobile analytics, whether you’re in Budapest, Bangkok or Baltimore, you can have the information you need to make decisions when you need to make them.”

The final trend that she identifies is that companies are starting to realize the competitive value in mining analytics for insight into what their markets want or what activities they need to tweak.

With data, companies can make smarter decisions, treating their analytics as a “strategic weapon” that optimizes communication across the organization and can drive improvement in many operations.

However, she also acknowledges that the rise of Big Data – the vast quantities of data that companies collect on sales transactions, website activity and other actions – brings major complications along with all of its benefits. If businesses hope to realize all the promises of analytics, they will need to adopt tools and devise management policies that help them get a handle on what kind of and how much data they are dealing with. 

“I think that companies will store data in their warehouses for distribution to mobile analytics consumers and for use in temporary one-off applications that may or may not survive long-term,” Griffin says.

She concludes that “it doesn’t matter anymore that companies do or don’t have millions of dollars to spend on analytics. The tools and development techniques available today help just about any company with competent IT people to compete with analytics.”

Despite that availability, however, a study from Gartner found that just 30 percent of business intelligence initiatives will successfully join analytics with enterprise business drivers by 2014. Andreas Bitterer, Gartner’s research vice president, said part of the reason for this disconnect is that the need for analytics has no place among many organizations’ skill requirements.

The research firm issued several predictions for how business intelligence would take shape over the coming years. The report projected that cloud-based analytics would become more readily available, but that few companies would invest in the option. In reference to its assessment that less than one-third of businesses would have aligned analytics and enterprise business drivers over the next two years, Gartner said the problem is that BI and analytics are evolving faster than companies’ ability to segment and properly distribute the findings.