Published on the 13/08/2019 | Written by Heather Wright
Spreadsheets are dead, right? Think again…
Big data may be part of the common lexicon of business, but it remains an illusion for many companies according to Deloitte.
The professional services company surveyed more than 1,000 large companies in April and says the results clearly show that insight-driven organisations are in the minority today despite the number of years technologies such as big data and analytics have been available. In fact, the majority of companies still don’t have initiatives in place to create an analytics-driven culture, according to the survey.
Despite all the chatter around analytics and artificial intelligence, the survey also shows that reports of the death of spreadsheets have been greatly exaggerated, with 62 percent of companies relying on them for their number crunching and insights.
“Companies must leap from being perpetual data ‘dabblers’ to becoming true analytics ‘doers’.”
Analytics and AI-Driven Enterprises Thrive in the Age of With: The Culture Catalyst says while many companies have invested in the teams and technologies required to become an insight-driven organisation, they’re not breaking free of merely ‘dabbling’ in data and progressing to a more mature model.
“Many are finding that siloed initiatives, tools and specialised talent are not enough when applied independently,” says Ben Stiller, Deloitte Consulting principal and strategy and analytics practice lead for retail and consumer products.
“To be successful in the ‘Age of With’ [that’s Deloitte jargon for collaboration between humans and machines], companies must leap from being perpetual data ‘dabblers’ to becoming true analytics ‘doers.’
“While the dabblers continue to execute informally disparate proofs of concept and pilots leading to minimum value delivery, the doers are systematically embracing data, adopting analytics, AI and automation and changing the way work is done across the enterprise.”
Business analytics ranked on par with critical drivers of business value such as reputation management, risk management and managing growth expectations in companies priorities. (AI in comparison was rated as below average importance.)
Companies are also struggling to harness unstructured data with 64 percent relying solely on structured data. That’s preventing them from gaining valuable insights from sources such as product images or customer comments gathered from interacting with a chatbot while shopping online, or customer audio files.
“Unstructured data can deliver a more comprehensive understanding of factors outside the organisation that can impact business,” Deloitte says. “In fact, the survey showed that executives who incorporate unstructured data into their approach are 24 percent more likely to have exceeded their business goals.”
The people analysing the data make a big difference too. The report found data teams tended to be small and ‘homogeneous’, with two-thirds of organisations relying on a select group of employees in analytics or data science, compared with 27 percent who shy all employees are trained – something Deloitte says is ‘quite rare in our experience’. Those that do go all in with their data training are reaping the benefits, with 88 percent saying they exceeded their business goals. That’s a 27 percentage point increase over those with only a small select group trained on analytics.
“Instead of relying on siloed teams of highly technical quantitative experts, companies would do well to cultivate a wide variety of people throughout the organisation who are curious, numerate and capable of translating between analytics/data science methods and business requirements.”
The lack of training is likely a factor in the discomfort those surveyed had in accessing or using data, with 67 percent saying they weren’t comfortable doing so.
But there’s an even bigger issue at play: That old chestnut of culture.
“Buying and using analytics tools is not hard – changing behaviours is,” Deloitte says.
“A data-driven culture is one in which important decisions are made based on data and analytics (assuming that data is available).
“It is important to note that data, technology, and solid statistical and machine learning capabilities are facilitators but not necessarily drivers of insight-driven decision-making. There has to be a willingness to act on analytically derived insights – to make decisions, change processes and adapt behaviours based on insights rather than intuition.
Deloitte says companies need to instill responsibility for analytics across the organisation, regardless of job title or level, and enlist an executive sponsor, ideally the CEO, to spur change in mindset across management.
Tying individual performance goals to meaningful use of analytics can help motivate employees to use insights in everyday tasks – something that can be reinforced by executives who encourage and reward the fail forward mindset.