• // Business Intelligence
  • // Data Warehousing
  • // Business Analytics

The Analytics Blind Spot for Business Users

In my last post “Analytics In – Business Intelligence Out?” I discussed one of the key findings in our new research brief How Business Intelligence and Analytics are Being Used in 2012. In our research, we examined the terms that most resonated with business users when discussing the process of analyzing business information to support better decision making and improve business results.  Surprisingly, “business intelligence” rated fairly low compared to the terms “analytics” and “reporting.” As I noted previously, the fact that “reporting” rated so highly suggests that many businesses executives have just scratched the surface of what BI can do.

In Business Analytics, Business Users Don’t Know What They Don’t Have

This week, we’ll dig into a complementary finding from our report that suggests that business users don’t know what they don’t have. We asked our business users in Sales & Marketing, Operations and Finance to identify the tasks that were most important to their role. This included tasks such as “understanding the competitive landscape” (Sales and Marketing), “translating company strategy into operational plans” (Operations), and “planning forecasting and budgeting” (Finance).

We also asked our business users to rate how well their company’s business intelligence and analytics capabilities helped them to accomplish these tasks.  Our respondents indicated that they had adequate BI for only 87% of their most important tasks. Given that fewer than half of business users indicated that they were using the more sophisticated styles of business intelligence (e.g., advanced analytics and predictive analytics), it would seem as though business users may feel as though they have adequate BI, yet are leaving much of the potential to leverage BI to improve their most important business tasks untapped.

Who’s to Blame for Inadequate Business Analytics?

From our experience working with clients in business analytics, we see this scenario all too often. And even in the cases where they do know what they don’t have and would like to use more advanced analytics, we often hear business users say that they have basic information, but it’s hard to get and IT is non-responsive, and thus they have stopped asking for even entry-level BI, let alone advanced BI.

So while business users may blame their IT departments for lack of analytics capabilities, those same IT departments blame business users for not valuing analytics and making it a lower priority than other business projects. So who’s to blame? Both. Neither. From a practical standpoint, blame really doesn’t matter. What’s more important is the ability to work together to identify the areas of top business priorities, explore ways that business analytics can improve those areas, and then put in place the systems and tools that will allow business users to execute in those areas.

It’s important for these teams to figure out how to work together soon because in the next few years, they’ll find themselves deluged with new types of data coming at them more rapidly and at higher volumes. In other words, they need to get ready to leverage big data.

Next week, I’ll examine how companies feel about their ability to handle the expected increases in volume, velocity and variety of data over the next few years.

If you want a copy of the full report, you can access it here.

By Adrian Alleyne, Director of Market Research
© Decisionpath Consulting, 2012

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