MIT Sloan Report: Are you an Analytical Innovator or Analytically Challenged?

Full disclosure: we here at InsightSquared have a soft spot for data and are big believers in the power of sales analytics. Given that, you can only begin to imagine our excitement when we came across the excellent MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS Institute report “From Value to Vision: Reimagining the Possible with Data Analytics.”  The in-depth report, which includes a survey of more than 2,500 respondents – the majority of which were executives at the VP or director level – in two dozen industries, [image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”19105″ align=”left” lightbox=”false” title=”Sales Analytics – MIT Sloan Management Review” alt=”Sales Analytics – MIT Sloan Management Review” width=”251″ height=”111″ autoHeight=”true”] seeks to answer the question of what makes companies that are great at analytics different from everyone else. Naturally, our curiosity was piqued.

The most eye-opening statistic in the report was that a full two-thirds of respondents reported that their companies are gaining a competitive edge from the use of analytics. This represented a stark increase from the 58% of respondents in 2011 and a significant jump from the mere 37% of respondents who felt this way in 2010. The business analytics movement is trending in the right direction.

However, the report also stressed that even among adopters of analytics, there were distinct tiers – namely, vast differences between Analytical Innovators, Analytical Practitioners and the Analytically Challenged. Only 11% of survey respondents qualified as Analytical Innovators, who are thusly distinguished by their mindsets, cultures, actions and outcomes.

We are especially interested in this top group of Analytical Innovators, since we (humbly) would place ourselves in this category. Looking at the stringent qualifications of Analytical Innovators, we checked off every bullet on the list. However, does your organization…

  • Support the use of data and analytics across a wide range of corporate activities?

  • View data as a status quo, believe in the possible and is open to new ways of thinking?

  • Use analytics to increase customer understanding and to make real-time decisions?

  • Support analytics champions to promote best practices?

  • Share data insights with stakeholders?

  • Give customer-facing employees ample access to insights to help drive sales and productivity?

  • Take an integrated approach to information management?

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Becoming a data-driven organization is not just about investing more in analytics, however. Instead, it is essential to confer power on analytics and create an overall culture where analytics plays a significant role in how decisions get made. As Neel Sundaresan, the senior director and head of eBay Research Labs, said in the report, the analytical culture has to be pervasive at all levels of the organization from the top-down.

“Everybody in the organization has to be data-driven,” Sundaresan told the authors of the report. “Now, not everybody has to look at data, but everybody has to understand data at some level. Being able to understand and get your head around that data is really important. You can think of it as an attitude change in all grades of people.”

On the flip-side, the number of companies that would be deemed Analytically Challenged far surpasses the number that qualify as Analytical Innovators. Analytically Challenged organizations operate in cultures that lack collaboration, suffer from deficient data, tend to have a weak information value chain and typically have no burning platform for their data efforts. Most egregiously of all, these organizations tend to not just be Analytically Challenged, but largely analytically apathetic as well. Consider this quote from an anonymous respondent in the Analytically Challenged category.

“Everyone believes that if we’ve managed so far and so well without a robust strategic approach to data analytics, we can go on doing so in the future as well.”

It’s exactly this type of complacent and nonchalant attitude that prevents these companies from innovating and threatens to leave them buried under increased competition from organizations that are willing to challenge the status quo. Don’t let your company fall into this category. Push for innovation, embrace the power of data and enjoy the competitive advantages that Analytical Innovators do.

Do you want to learn how to use your Salesforce or CRM data to become an Analytical Innovator too?

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