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Analytics: A blueprint for value

Converting big data and analytics insights into meaningful results

In today’s competitive marketplace, executive leaders are racing to convert data-driven insights into meaningful results.Successful leaders are infusing analytics throughout their organizations to drive smarter decisions, enable faster actions and optimize outcomes. These are among the key findings from the 2013 IBM Institute for Business Value research study on how organizations around the globe are leveraging key capabilities to amplify their ability to create value from big data and analytics.

The IBM Institute for Business Value has researched the field of analytics at ever-increasing levels of granularity since 2009. Our research, combined with the on-the-ground experience of thousands of consultants, continues to probe deeper into the fundamental question: How can organizations achieve positive returns on their analytic investments by taking advantage of the growing amounts of data?

We’ve determined it takes the right alignment of strategy, technology and organizational structure. Analytic implementation strategies need to enable an organization’s most important business objectives; the technology in place needs to support the analytics strategy; and the organization’s culture needs to evolve so people use the technology to take action in line with the strategy. The proper alignment of these three key dimensions is needed to create tangible value and results-based outcomes.

To discover how to achieve this alignment of strategy, technology and structure, we surveyed 900 business and IT executives from 70 countries. We asked more than 50 questions to an analytics-savvy group of executives, senior managers and managers, along with analytics experts, business and data analysts, and others within organizations large and small. The questions were designed to reveal how to translate high-level concepts associated with delivering exceptional business value through analytics into actions that can truly deliver value.

To benchmark the capabilities of midmarket organizations against these global standards, we analyzed the responses of more than 450 midmarket business and IT executives, managers and analysts to our global survey. This wide-ranging survey examined more than 50 analytics processes, the collection level of 12 types of data, the competency level of data and analytics skills for 15 analysis techniques, and implementation levels of 14 hardware and data management components. The questions were designed to reveal how to translate the high-level concepts associated with delivering exceptional business value through analytics into actions that can truly deliver value.

Today, few midmarket companies have measurement frameworks and governance in place to support sustainability: the ability to keep growing in the still-emerging digital marketplace. Without stronger governance and more varied sources of data – especially those that target understanding customer behavior, such as social and mobile applications’ data – midmarket organizations will continue to struggle.

In fact, midmarket companies have substantial strengths to build upon. They outpace Leaders in their growth-driven expansion efforts, attributing the value of analytics solutions to their ability to increase revenues, increase the speed and accuracy of decisions, and generate innovative ideas. Midmarket executives can benefit from strong culture and trust as they adopt new technologies, develop new analytic methodologies and implement more data-driven processes aligned to the business strategy.

Organizations that derive the most value from analytics take a disciplined approach to performance, and implement processes to manage and monitor analytic investments. Midmarket companies have the foundational elements to do this but need more discipline and investment in platforms, accelerators, skills and/or partnerships for greater returns. Even lacking the resources and budgets comparable to those of larger enterprises, midmarket organizations can aim to use the same tools to tackle analytics challenges in different ways.


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Meet the authors

Glenn Finch, General Manager and Global Leader, Cognitive Business Decision Support, IBM Consulting

Cathy Rodenbeck Reese

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, Global Technology & Data Program Leader, IBM Consulting Technology & Data


Rebecca Shockley

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, Executive Consultant CBDS Data Platform & AI, IBM Consulting


Fred Balboni

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, General Manager, Partnerships and Alliances

Originally published 09 October 2013