The London Gartner BI and analytics Summit is one of the largest conferences in Europe exploring the use of analytics technology in business. For those working in senior management and finance, this is a pressing issue, and one that has only become more so in the last couple of years. Listening to some of the sessions, and even just peripheral conversations at this event, makes it very clear why.
Where once analytics was merely a source of better-quality data for business leaders, it is now a source of real competitive advantage – or at least it is for those who do it well. That difference means that those who do not look to improve how they use analytics are at risk of giving up these marginal gains to their competitors.
Today’s analytics leaders are not just looking to understand their businesses better – they are focusing on specific business outcomes, and looking to drive improvements with a direct impact on the bottom line. In the opening keynote at this week’s event, Gartner VP Neil Chandler outlined how only 15% of analytics projects are currently designed to help solve a specific business challenge.
That leaves a lot of room for improvement, a lot of analysis with no real purpose, and a lot of room for organisations to gain competitive advantage by refocusing their analytics efforts on specific business challenges. Creating and maintaining this focus is not easy – particularly since, in order to achieve the necessary impact in the organisation, the technology cannot be kept within a small team.
The answer is hinted at by another exciting topic being discussed here at the Gartner Summit. Only a couple of years ago, data discovery was seen as being the answer for businesses struggling to turn data into insight in their organisation. But, from the conversations happening around the Summit, it’s clear that analytics frameworks offering guided analysis and storytelling are proving themselves to have a much greater positive impact on business outcomes.
Since it has gone from relative obscurity to near-ubiquity in such a short space of time, it is easy to forget that accessible, usable business analytics is a relatively new technology. Certainly it is new enough that the difference between the useful and the merely interesting is not always clear until a solution has been in use for some time. The organisations that gain competitive advantage from the technology will be those that are able to generate and recognise genuinely useful insight quickly, and act on it.