While many companies are beginning to cultivate benefits from their use of analytics, organizations that are getting the most value have a distinct approach. In this section, we introduce the Analytical Innovators, contrast their behaviors with other companies and discuss how these differences matter to organizational performance.
The concept of Analytical Innovators emerged when we combined responses to two of our survey questions, one about creating a competitive advantage with analytics and one about using analytics to innovate.15 We then grouped respondents into three distinct levels of analytics sophistication according to how they responded to both questions. (See Figure 2: Analytical Innovators — A Small Group of Analytics Leaders.)
Figure 2: Analytical Innovators — A Small Group of Analytics Leaders
Analytical Innovators are those respondents who strongly agree that analytics has helped improve their organizations’ ability to innovate and say that analytics has helped create a competitive advantage to a great extent. Analytics Practitioners are utilizing data, mostly to address tactical and operational issues, but are not innovating with analytics at the same level as Analytical Innovators. And Analytically Challenged organizations are struggling to use data beyond basic reporting and marketing applications.
Analytical Innovators are distinguished by several key characteristics: their mindset and culture, their actions and their outcomes.
Mindset and Culture
More than other companies, Analytical Innovators have developed an analytical mindset that supports the use of data and analytics across a wide range of corporate activities. They tend to view data as a core asset; they challenge the status quo; they believe in the possible; and they are open to new ways of thinking.
Data as a Core Asset: It’s Cultural Several executives in our interview series described data as a core asset — in their companies, analytical insights are part of the culture of the organization and are utilized in strategic decisions, both large and small. Analytics determines products and services, project success or failure, and the allocation of resources. Employees, whether data-oriented or not, utilize these insights in their decision-making processes.
Neel Sundaresan, senior director and head of eBay Research Labs, describes the role of analytic insights at eBay:
Everybody in the organization — whether you are a technical person, a researcher or an engineer, a product manager, a businessperson, or an analyst — has to be data-driven.