Data analytics can help companies dramatically improve sales and marketing effectiveness and decision-making, but a ZS study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of nearly 450 U.S.-based senior executives from companies across industries found that headwinds to successful adoption persist.
Just 2 percent of companies said they have achieved broad, positive impact from their analytics investments so far, and while more than 90 percent of respondents have invested in cloud-based big data infrastructure or are planning to do so, only 8 percent have fully integrated it into their analytics capability.
Despite the high percentage of companies that agree on the importance of analytics to competitive advantage and prioritize investments in this area, the research suggests performance is defined not by the magnitude of investment alone, but rather by working smarter to optimize how the analytics capability is integrated into the fabric of the organization.
Moreover, while companies understand the need for advanced analytics, two-thirds of executives surveyed do not have sufficiently trained employees to maintain this capability.
The survey found that almost all executives outsource at least part of their analytics program, and this trend is expected to continue over the next two years.
"While many companies likely see this as a work in progress, there is a significant amount of work remaining to achieve the goals defined by these organizations," Dan Wetherill, an associate principal on ZS' Analytics Process Optimization team, told eWEEK.
Less than 10 percent of businesses surveyed said they have connected the infrastructure with their analytics capability.
Moreover, among the companies that have successfully implemented cloud-based big data infrastructure, a meager 20 percent report achieving transformational or revolutionary impact.
"We were surprised to see how low the impact has been so far and believe there is substantial opportunity to improve performance by more tightly integrating big data and analytics capabilities in the future," Wetherill said.
In addition, Wetherill explained more than half of large organizations (over $5 billion) are still very reactive in their marketing and sales analytics, struggling to get even basic data and quality right and unable to serve as a proactive insights partner.
"On the bright side, we believe that companies that work smart—rather than simply investing more—can create the kind of game-changing impact desired if they use a multidisciplinary approach and look beyond cost alone to the total value created by the analytics program," Wetherill said. "This will require looking at the whole value chain to address weak links and creating a cohesive analytics system connecting from data to technology platforms, business processes, analytic decision-making and, ultimately, the end-customer."