SAP: UK, US companies hit automation barrier with predictive analytics

Companies are hitting a wall in the use of predictive analytics, with lack of time and resource cited as their biggest problem

Companies are hitting an automation barrier in the use of predictive analytics. 

An SAP survey of 300 businesses in the UK and US, conducted by research agency Loudhouse, found that 42% see lack of time and resources as their biggest analytics difficulty, 75% believe they need new data science skills, and 84% would like training to integrate analytics into their day-to-day work. 

James Fisher, vice-president of marketing, analytics solutions, at SAP, said the research – Predicting the future of predictive analytics disclosed a need for organisations to automate predictive analytics work. 

“[Once automated] it is less about technology and more about getting training in how analytics can be used in day-to-day life in business.

“Getting access to – and making sense of – data has, until recently, been seen as a complex and highly skilled task, delivered by people with advanced degrees in statistics and prior analytical experience. This simply can’t scale at the pace of the business,” he said.

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"But now, with the availability of new predictive analytics technologies, people at all levels of the business can self-service their need for insight. It is now possible to embed predictive analytics into all areas of an organisation, from point of sale to the call centre,” Fisher added.

He said the research and SAP’s work in this arena show that organisations see “huge value in advanced predictive analytics” for analysing customer behaviour and for fraud prevention, “but they have been struggling with a manual approach. It has been very hand-crafted up to now, and repetitive”.

Fisher said that just as business intelligence query and reporting has benefited from automation, so more sophisticated business analytics is also ripe for automation, in response to customer demand.

With the availability of new predictive analytics technologies, people at all levels of the business can self-service their need for insight

James Fisher, SAP

The research base was half UK, half US. Both zones were very similar, but US companies are more advanced in their use of predictive analytics in predicting customer needs (UK: 80%, US: 90%) and new market trends (UK: 78%, US: 90%), while also reporting fewer barriers around skills and resource challenges.

He confirmed, however, that on this side of the Atlantic, Istanbul-based Fortis Disbank is using SAP’s predictive analytics software for fraud analysis, and in the UK, Barclays and Virgin Media are using it for marketing. Virgin Media is using Kxen Infinite Insight, software from a recent SAP acquisition, to generate sales leads by analysing customer behaviour patterns.

The survey team polled 309 UK and US business decision-makers with some responsibility for company strategy from June to August 2013. All, said SAP, had some knowledge of predictive analytics, and worked in organisations with 50 or more employees. 

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