The world’s most successful businesses are slicing, dicing and drilling into more data, from more sources – and it’s helping them be more efficient, more innovative, and more profitable.

We know this, because we contacted more than 2,000 business leaders worldwide, asked them some burning questions about how they’re using analytics, and did our own analysis on the results.

Based on our findings (which you can read in full in our State of Analytics report) we’re proud to present our 5 steps to becoming a business analytics visionary. 

Step one: Drive smarter business strategy

Analytics can tell you incredibly valuable – and sometimes highly unexpected – things about your business and its customers. Don’t be afraid of letting them shape your strategy.

Almost all (90%) of the top-performing business leaders we surveyed said analytics was very important – or absolutely critical – to driving their overall business strategy and improving operational outcomes.

One company making smart use of analytics is Western Union, a global leader in international money transfer. With agents based all over the world, it uses cloud-based analytics to measure their productivity, and identify and respond to trends in the effectiveness of its operations.

Step two: Find powerful new use cases for data analytics

Here are two key questions to ask yourself. Where do you use analytics today? Where could you use analytics tomorrow?

Today’s top performing companies are 3x more likely to be heavy analytics users then their underperforming peers, gleaning insights in ten or more different disciplines – from identifying new revenue streams and facilitating growth, to improving collaboration, and predicting customer behaviour.

This last discipline has some compelling healthcare applications. Merck KGaA, the Germany-based pharmaceutical company, is already using cloud-based analytics to gain deep insights into its customer needs and priorities – and that’s only the start of the story. In future, Merck KGaA expects to use its analytics to delve into data collected from wearables, and help doctors spot health issues – and plan treatments – in advance.

Step three: Create a culture of analysis

Business analytics should be in the hands of the many, not the few. Top performing companies are more than twice as likely then underperformers to give analytics tools to at least half of their employees.

Creating a true culture of analysis also means ensuring analytics tools are available whenever and whenever they’re needed – so join 55 percent of top performers in making extensive use of mobile analytics.

The revolutionary clothes-shopping experience for men, The Chapar, is already doing just that. Real-time data plays a key role in ensuring the new threads it delivers to its customers are exactly to their taste – and that its stylists stay on track with their sales targets.

Having mobile access to this crucial data helps The Chapar’s team deliver a seamless service to thousands of customers across Europe.

Step four: Invest, invest, invest.

Not just in data analytics tools themselves, but in helping your people get the most from them.

Seventy-five percent of top performers are planning to increase their analytics spend over the next two years – but, compared to underperformers, they’re also allocating almost twice as much of their budget to training.

Top performers are also more likely to recognise the growing importance of unstructured data – being 5x more likely than underperformers to believe that analysing this comparatively awkward resource will be the key to unlocking deep insights into customer behaviour.

One organisation already getting to grips with unstructured data is The Financial Conduct Authority. As FCA CIO Gareth Lewis explains, using cloud-based analytics, the regulatory body can “…interrogate massive volumes of unstructured data to provide greater insight into issues in the industry”.


Step five: Actively embrace the very latest analytics technology

Sooner or later, every business will get better at analytics – they’ll have to if they want to keep pace with their peers. And that means to turning analytics into an enduring advantage means consistently staying ahead of the curve.

It’s perhaps unsurprising then, that today’s top performers are more actively leveraging emerging analytics tools than today’s underperformers.

Networking solutions company Extreme Networks, for example, has embraced advanced, predictive analytics in its quest to provide unparalleled, proactive customer service. According to Extreme Networks Director, Mike Lytle, “Using a weighted sum algorithm based on customer contact, type of contact, customer satisfaction scores, and more, we can predict customer temperature and alert the appropriate management team to take proactive measures.”

Hungry for more insights?

Remember to check out our full State of Analytics report. It spotlights the major business analytics trends and challenges, while digging a little deeper into just what’s setting today’s analytics visionaries apart.