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Businesses must change culture to be successful with analytics

Research has shown that business must go through a culture change from the very top if they are to be successful with data analytics

Changing culture is the most critical aspect for businesses to succeed with data analytics, according to research.

Strategy firm OC&C polled more than 300 business leaders from UK and US organisations to examine attitudes to analytics and how firms are investing in culture change.

The survey found that UK companies have spent £12bn in 2017 on analytics, compared with £58bn in the US. The results also showed that the 52% of businesses which spent at least £10m a year on analytics have far outperformed rivals.

Companies will continue to invest, said the study, with spending expected to hit £24bn in the UK and £112bn in the US by 2020.

Based on the results, OC&C recommended three main pillars for how to achieve a successful analytics platform: foundational imperatives, people imperatives and enabler imperatives.

Foundation imperatives focus on the commitment from the company to do analytics; people imperatives mean getting analytics ingrained in the culture; and enabler imperatives are the technology tools to help gather data.

James Walker, partner and head of global analytics at OC&C, said culture was the most important theme from the research. “Culture change is the number one imperative for creating successful analytics capability,” he said.

“The idea that it doesn’t matter about the technology you use, building an analytics team or investing in new technologies like machine learning or artificial intelligence [means] you have to change the culture of the organisation. Otherwise the analytics just bounce off the organisation and do not have any impact.”

Senior sponsorship was the second most important consideration, and Walker believes commitment must come from the top: “It begins with a CEO, who has to declare, ‘We are going to become a data and analytics-driven company’ and lead from the front in terms of demonstrating change.”

Read more about data analytics

He said the surprise from the report was that businesses did not deem self-service analytics as important. “We felt at the beginning of the research that this might be a theme, that people would be interested in self-service analytics for executives as a popular way of embedding analytics in the organisation,” he said.

But the survey found that analytics are implemented more successfully using a technology system, rather than self-service for the “business-as-usual” cases. Furthermore, for important strategic decisions, instead of an executive making a choice, they would feel more comfortable to pass it onto analytics teams.

Self-service really fell between two stools. It wasn’t seen as that useful in terms of embedding into everyday processes like technology was, nor was it seen as something that you’d want to do for a strategically important question, where you’d want the robustness and thoroughness of an analytics department to attack it properly,” said Walker.

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