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Analytics in Action:
Breakthroughs and Barriers on the Journey to ROI

Executive Summary

Where does the practice of analytics stand today, and how are companies implementing this potent new approach to decision-making? Most importantly, is the practice delivering on the promise?

Even before many enterprises achieve measurable Return on Investment (ROI) from their current analytics capabilities, disruptive new forces and pressures are turning the journey to ROI into a thrills-and-spills obstacle course. Every analytics practitioner must contend with the advent of Big Data, not to mention accelerating technological innovation, rising demands for more sophisticated predictive applications, and the tricky task of embedding analytics across enterprise-wide processes.

Getting analytics right requires clear vision, a steady hand, precision engineering, and a readiness to make course corrections while in motion. Are today’s users of analytics up to the challenge?

Analytics Arising:
Adoption is Up, Leadership is on Board

Analytics has increasingly worked its way into the business lexicon and is clearly part of the C-suite agenda. A full 66 percent of firms report appointing a senior figure to lead data management in the last 18 months. Even among companies that did not make such an executive appointment, a large majority (71 percent) expects to do so in the near future.

A Surge in Predictive Analytics

More than twice as many organizations are using analytics as a predictive tool today than in 2009. There is a growing sophistication in analytics capabilities that anticipates tomorrow rather than explains yesterday.

Is Analytics being used as a predictive or retrospective tool?

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Both equally
Don't know

The Analytics Capacity Gap

The analytics capacity gap is a recurrent theme of the survey findings, with companies scouring the globe to source the analytics talent they know they lack. Practitioners are confident that analytics can deliver value, but are frustrated that current capacity falls so far short of their aspirations.

Having Won Acceptance, Now What?

Practitioners must move beyond traditional sources of data, in order to seize the opportunities for new insights being created by new sources of data such as these:

  • Text analytics from social media and digital interactions
  • Voice analytics from call center interactions
  • Monitoring the customer experience in real-time using web analytics
  • Seeing things from the sky (geospatial data)
  • Understanding patterns of physical movement from geo-location data
  • Monitoring movement (visual data)
  • Understanding attitudes/behavior (customer, employee)

The Bottom Line:
When fast isn’t fast enough, win with Analytics

Measure what matters, especially when what matters is changing constantly. It is critically important for organizations to re-assess what they measure, both internally and externally, in order to drive faster and better decision-making. Establishing clear causal links between data and the insights, actions and outcomes flowing from the data all depends on making certain you have the relevant data as your starting point, and recognizing what is relevant today may become quite irrelevant tomorrow.

Analytics in Practice:
Three Key Success Factors

Consumers are becoming more than faceless transactions, and companies now have rich channels to communicate with consumers in a much more personal way.

1 – Functional Focus

Survey results indicate that growth in use of analytics is predominantly found at the functional unit level, particularly in customer-centric areas.

Departments within the organization currently using analytics to any degree of sophistication.

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PR & Media Department
Strategic Planning, Legal21%

2 – Data-Driven Insights and Decision-Making

Active users of analytics see data as an increasingly valuable source for generating new ideas and opportunities for the business. Respondents who rely on data “to a great extent” for new ideas more than doubled in 2012 to 25 percent, up from 12 percent in 2009. While more than six in ten users rate faster, better decision-making as a priority, only one in four habitually rely on data as a source of inspiration or basis for decision-making.

Data as a Source of Inspiration

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To a great extent
To a moderate extent
To only a minor extent
Not at all really
The Art & Science of Decision-Making

Importance in influencing the decision making process.

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Simple data
and facts2.74
More complex
data analysis3.03
with others2.95

3 – Sourcing Analytics Talent

As the role of data in decision-making grows, having the right people working with the data has never been more critical. As one respondent noted, "The ability to take analytics and manipulate it in a way that department heads understand and can connect with is critical to stay competitive."

The Bottom Line:
Have the right people in the right place at the right time

Accenture Analytics believes that having the right people focused on the right set of problems is one of the most important components of an effective analytical capability. Companies need to have deep functional skills and deep industry context, together with an optimal sourcing strategy and structure for accessing scarce skills as needed. Increasingly, this sourcing strategy will have to include the ability to scour the globe for the necessary people.

Analytics Talent:
Having the Right People in the Right Place at the Right Time

Nearly six in ten firms (59 percent) report turning to external analysts and consultants for assistance, up from 53 percent in 2009. These findings may reflect pressures exerted by the fluctuating workloads endemic to the practice of analytics. As organizations encounter seasonal increases or decreases in demand for analytics services, they may be finding it more cost-effective to go outside the enterprise for additional capacity, rather than to hire permanent analytics staff, many of whom may be under-utilized during non-peak periods of the business cycle.

Sources of Analytics Talent

Level of importance typically placed on contribution

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Centralized analysts (group resource)48%60%
Analysts within the department/​unit/​function62%68%
External analysts/consultants59%53%

Where Will All the STEM Talent Come From?
Demand for STEM skills—advanced knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics—is exploding worldwide, as organizations and economies seek to drive growth.

How Star Performers Compete (and Win) with Analytics
Jeanne Harris, executive research fellow and senior executive at the Accenture Institute for High Performance, explains how analytics can help organizations better manage their business and improve their decision-making.

Data is Useless without the Skills to Analyze it
Data literacy skills must spread far beyond their usual home, the IT function, and become an integral aspect of every business function and activity.

Where Will You Find Your Analytics Talent?
Companies searching for talent to staff their ambitious analytics initiatives are finding demand outstripping supply.

Achieving ROI on Analytics:
From Insights and Actions to Outcomes

Is Analytics delivering on the Journey to ROI? Even though the business discipline is still developing, what is the verdict? Positive, but cautiously so, suggesting that some enterprises are successfully leveraging the power of analytics within functional areas and across functions, while others are still struggling to see a meaningful Return on Investment (ROI).

More Strivers than Clear Winners

While more than one-third of firms (35 percent) report some degree of satisfaction with analytics, only slightly more than one in five firms (22 percent) state that they are "very" satisfied with the outcomes they have realized as a result of their analytics investment.

Analytics Winners and Strivers

Satisfaction with business outcomes driven by analytics investments

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Don't know9%
Not at all satisfied18%
Not very satisfied16%
Quite satisfied35%UK respondents (41%) are more satisfied than US respondents (29%)
Very satisfied22%

When analytics does not work as expected for a company, it is helpful to look for the source of the problem in the three most common reasons why:

  • Bad Metrics: Companies are working with the wrong data or looking for the wrong results.
  • Flawed Actions: Users are not identifying and validating the correct insights and actions suggested by the data.
  • Faulty Execution: Companies fail to embed analytics across the enterprise so that analytics capabilities are linked to strategic outcomes.

Real-time ROI Results in Pharmaceuticals

Enterprises in the pharmaceutical sector are realizing measurable ROI by transforming their enterprises into customer-centric businesses, with assistance from Accenture Interactive. Accenture’s Marketing Intelligence Factory, built expressly for pharmaceutical companies, generates a multi-dimensional 360-degree view of the pharma customer that puts insights, data and ROI simulation tools in the hands of field personnel via mobile devices. Live what-if and ROI simulations let sales forces test disruptive scenarios and deal trade-offs in real time, informing and accelerating complex decisions under negotiation pressure prior to completing the transaction.

Prime Time ROI for Broadcast/Cable Operators

Television channels and related communications companies must market multiple programming assets across multiple channels and multiple devices. The television industry is leveraging analytics in combination with smart-tv technologies, advertising research. Accenture Interactive’s TV Viewing Recommendation Engine combines data collection and data transformation to create TV program personalization… individual recommendations on programs and channels based on customer insight. Recommendations first reassure by identifying “best” programs in preferred categories, then suggest new programs the viewer normally would not watch. The results are having a direct impact on television’s ROI: increased viewing levels, reduced churn, and rising customer satisfaction.

The Bottom Line

Accenture Analytics believes it is imperative to infuse insights into operations, embedding analytics into business processes in a robust, industrialized way, generating the right action recommendations, to the right role at the right time. High-performing companies make analysis an integral part of everyday business processes—the methods by which work gets done and value is created. Developing a repeatable decision-making process that leverages data and analytical methods should be a high priority for every organization interested in analytics. Once this virtuous cycle has been industrialized, embedding analytics into the management processes and decision-making, analytics practitioners must have and having the courage to ask, “Did we achieve the ROI we want?” If the answer is no, refocus and try again, learning as you go.

Analytics in Action 
Analytics adoption is on the rise and securely on the C-suite agenda but companies are struggling to realize their return on investment (ROI).
Analytics, Analytics ROI, Predictive Analytics
Yes  Yes 
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