How organizations capture, create and use data is changing the way we work and live. This big idea, which is gaining currency among executives, academics and business analysts, reflects a growing belief that we are on the cusp of an analytics revolution that may well transform how organizations are managed, along with the economies and societies in which they operate.
As part of a multiyear research initiative, MIT Sloan Management Review is partnering with SAS Institute Inc. to better understand companies that are shaping and are being shaped by this analytics revolution. In 2012, we conducted a survey of more than 2,500 respondents in two dozen industries and interviewed 29 experts in the field. Fifty-five percent of survey respondents were executives at the vice president/director level or above. The survey included over 30 detailed questions about how organizations are using data to advance their business objectives.
Fully 67% of survey respondents report that their companies are gaining a competitive edge from their use of analytics. Among this group, we identified a set of companies that are relying on analytics both to gain a competitive advantage and to innovate. At the vanguard of this revolution are companies that are using analytics to compete and to innovate. Understanding these companies suggests a path forward for many other companies.
These Analytical Innovators constitute leaders of the analytics revolution. They exist across industries, vary in size and employ a variety of business models. They also share a distinctive orientation toward data and analytics that includes three key characteristics:
- A widely shared belief that data is a core asset that can be used to enhance operations, customer service, marketing and strategy
- More effective use of more data for faster results
- Support for analytics by senior managers who embrace new ideas and are willing to shift power and resources to those who make data-driven decisions