Practical Truths to Becoming Analytics Savvy

Data holds a wealth of information. To use it, you need the right talent, strategy, tools, and processes. It is the reason why analytics use is on the rise.

According to the MIT Technology Review research report, Engines of Insight: How leading CDOs deliver top and bottom results - unlocking information is only part of the solution. You need an organization that is ready to put the actionable insights into action.

The first big challenge that CDOs face is in getting buy-in. "Having our CEO as a champion is key to the success of data analytics in the customer experience process,” Dr. Katia Walsh Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Vodafone said in the report.

“You absolutely need the CEO’s team’s support,” to make analytics work for the organization, according to Landon Lockhart, Senior Director Data and Analytics at GE Transportation in the report.

This is difficult to achieve in traditional industries whose CEOs focus on the fundamentals that they are familiar with.

“The way forward is through education. CDOs realize that they need the buy-in from the CEOs and board members to spur this change towards a data-driven organization. When we speak to our customers we advocate that organizational change must be driven by its top leaders,” Erich Gerber, General Manager, Asia Pacific and Japan at TIBCO Software said.   

“It is an organizational mindset shift,” he added.

Pedro Uria-Recio, Head of the Analytics Center at Malaysia-based digital and mobile conglomerate Axiata sees it as part of cultural change.

“Cultural change requires a top-down approach: the first people in our organization driving analytics change have been our regional CEO and CxOs,” he added in the report.

Concurrently, CDOs need to continually highlight the value of data in improving operational efficiency and personal productivity.

Here, tools matter—especially those that offer information and insights that go far beyond the core business processes. It is vital in a dynamic market where historical performance and data does not insure you against disruption. 

“Our business model for 130 years has largely been concerned with generating policy process changes at a high level,” said Wolfgang Hauner, Chief Data Officer at German reinsurance firm Munich Re in the report, “yet these processes are no longer sufficient. We need holistic analysis that looks at data far beyond our core insurance business.”

Talent is equally important. Many organizations employ data scientists. But finding them is getting harder; finding those who understand your business is worse.

McKinsey found that more than 40% of organizations experienced Analytics talent more difficult to recruit and retain than any other kind. Equipping people with the right data skill sets is crucial in helping CDOs deliver top and bottom line results,” Gerber said.

“If [data scientists] can’t tell a compelling story with their data, the data itself cannot be used. Data science skills need to drive business impact,” Dr. Walsh added in the report.

So, TIBCO Software is widening the talent pool. The company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Singapore Polytechnic in Singapore and ran a similar initiative in Indonesia with Bandung University.  

The firm is also offering tools, guidance and frameworks to turn analysts, engineers, and business users who are analytically-inclined but not trained as data scientists into one.

“We have built an online resource, TIBCO Community, that has a number of examples, reusable assets, and more, available to anyone interested in applying analytics to their data. Our product and solutions that cater to business users and citizen data scientists such as SpotfireStatistica, or StreamBase are also readily available for free trial downloads,” said Gerber.

Talents and tools only work if you have a common data platform. It is what Gas Natural Fenosa did, and the benefits were immediate.

“This allows us to then employ a data governance tool to enforce processes, improve data collection, and make that data accessible across the organization,” Ramon Morote Ribas, Chief Data Officer at Gas Natural Fenosa said in the report.

Admittedly, it will be difficult to achieve all of the above. “There is still a long way to go. Technology and culture change is hard: it will take us two to three years just to all [sic] bring our data to the new platform in-house,” Sameer Gupta, Chief Analytics Officer, DBS Bank said in the report.

But firms are not alone. "That is where we come in and help them interconnect everything from APIs for cloud, to modern applications. Once they have the visibility of all their data on a common platform, we provide the technology to help them gain the insights on their data and then help those customers turn insights into action,” Gerber said.