Few know the thrill of victory using big data better than the U.S. statistician and writer Nate Silver. His accurate prediction of the 2012 U.S. presidential election results for all 50 states made him the toast of Washington, D.C., elevating him to the status of celebrity geek. Television host Jon Stewart of The Daily Show called him “Lord and god of the algorithm.”1 Indeed, Silver’s abilities to identify the right data sources, ask the right questions and apply the right math have turned Silver into gold.
Silver now spends much of his time talking data and managing a staff of analysts who immerse themselves in statistics and information. They discuss data and make predictions on Silver’s website, fivethirtyeight.com, about everything from basketball tournaments to job growth. Though their predictions are often interesting, if not always accurate, Silver and his team are under intense pressure to stay relevant — and right. How do you sustain your momentum when you’re only as good as your last prediction?
And so it goes with the new world order of big data and analytics. As more organizations make better use of data, the path to value with analytics is getting crowded — and longer. Many companies find they must reconsider and refresh not only their analytical insights, but also the organizational factors necessary to turn insight into advantage.
This report, based on a survey of 2,037 professionals and interviews with more than 30 executives, reveals the pressure companies are under to both improve their analytics capabilities and find unique and relevant insights in their data — to try to be as good as their last prediction every single day. (See “About the Research.”)
As more companies look to analytics to gain an advantage, achieving such gains is becoming more difficult. That is, as analytics becomes a more common path to value, the implications for industry competition are coming into focus.