Here at MIT Sloan Management Review we’ve been conducting data analytics research with our partner, SAS, through two channels: a survey on how companies are using analytics and interviews with global business leaders. In the process, we’ve made some intriguing discoveries. One big one: A significant information transfer gap is compromising many organizations.
While companies are gathering all manner and volume of data — structured and unstructured, terabytes and petabytes — when it comes to getting insights from that data to the frontlines, where insights really matter, many organizations are losing their way.
What that means is that an important opportunity — the ability to act on insight to influence things like innovation and competitive advantage — is being missed.
Here’s how one CEO we spoke with outlined the promise of effective information transfer to the frontline:
“The biggest problem corporations face, whether it’s customer service, whether it’s sales, whether it’s an airline rep, is that they’re asked to make critical decisions for the corporation, but the information they’re provided is very, very hard to consume and use,” said Opera Solutions founder and CEO Arnab Gupta. “Increasingly what we are finding is when you use the power of predictive analytics and the sciences, you can bring information to the front line — average, normal human beings — in a way in which they can apply their creativity by simplifying and moving away from the world of information to the world of directive actions and insights.”
But the reality is: a majority of companies don’t find a way to disseminate insights to the frontline.
According to our survey data, 65% of respondents say their organizations are effective at capturing data, but just 46% of respondents say they are effective at disseminating information and insights. [You can read more about our initial research findings in “Innovating With Analytics,” in the Fall 2012 issue of MIT SMR. The full report will be available mid-November.] Compounding the issue, only four percent of organizations use all the data they collect. Nearly 30 percent use “not much” of the data they collect.