Understanding the Path Ahead

This is part 8 of 13 from “Analytics: The Widening Divide,” a report on the findings of the 2011 New Intelligent Enterprise Global Executive Study and Research Project.

Ideally, as organizations begin their transformations to analytical sophistication, they start building a solid information foundation and acquiring analytics capabilities simultaneously. In reality, we find that they tend to do one or the other, based on their existing culture, organizational structure and skills. The two paths observed in our analysis represent reasonable and pragmatic courses of action based on the strengths and weaknesses of individual organizations.

A propensity toward acquiring new analytical techniques and refining skills steers some organizations toward the Specialized path, with momentum for analytics coming from individual departments or functions. Skeptics elsewhere can then be converted when urgent business issues are addressed and the value of analytics is demonstrated.

Where the culture responds well to enterprise initiative and innovation, organizations will lean toward the Collaborative path. Targeting analytics for key strategic objectives creates support for shared investments and consensus-based decision making. As a result, analytics will be used sooner rather than later for strategic objectives aimed at increasing competitive advantage.

Each path poses different challenges. Organizational issues may be particularly difficult on the Specialized path, where solid leadership consensus is needed to integrate siloed data. In addition, organizations where capabilities are developed largely from the ground up are likely to progress unevenly until analytics is embraced as a leadership mandate.

FIGURE 13: Respondents Who Rate These Challenges as Extremely Difficult to Resolve

View Exhibit

An instructive finding supports this concern about the Specialized path. Overall, respondents were nearly twice as likely to find organizational challenges difficult to resolve compared to technology challenges (see Figure 13). Those on the Specialized path will need to overcome organizational difficulties eventually while collaborative organizations, having already made inroads on culture and consensus, may have an easier journey in front of them.

The main challenge on the Collaborative path? Because of their ongoing focus on integrated data management, these organizations may be inclined to be so persistent in getting data to its “ideal state” that they wait to acquire the tools and skills to analyze it.

Thus, existing conditions are likely to determine which path is taken by a particular organization. To keep moving forward with confidence, however, every organization needs to thoroughly understand its analytics strengths and weaknesses, as well as the terrain ahead.