5 Actions That Can Help Companies Master Analytics

By Brian McCarthy, Robert Berkey and Chad Vaske

Companies are under constant pressure—to innovate, to increase market share, to enhance operational efficiency and to transform challenges into opportunities, among other demands. As better-informed decision making can create valuable opportunities to alleviate these pressures, many companies are accelerating their investments in analytics capabilities and strategies.

An analytics strategy can be different for every company, with some building capabilities across functional silos, while others establish a “center of gravity” for analytics and become an insight-driven organization.  

In a recent study, Accenture Analytics looked into how organizations are implementing analytics operating models, and found some stark differences that separate the most analytically mature companies from the rest of the crowd. Companies that want to get ahead of the game should master the following five key actions, which are exhibited by the most analytically mature companies to get the most value from their data.  

Establish a center of gravity for analytics.

According to our research, more than three-quarters of companies with the highest level of analytics maturity have established an analytics center of gravity, or center of excellence, that focuses on strategy and planning activities, on establishing consistency and standards, and on building new capabilities. This model increases an organization’s ability to quickly and seamlessly identify important business problems and swiftly apply analytics insights to deal with them.

Employ agile governance.

Building regular checkpoints into a company’s analytics strategy is vital for measuring performance and rolling out new and improved capabilities. These checkpoints enable companies to correct their course and prevent them from overinvesting in capabilities or ideas that might not be well-received by customers. To benchmark success, a company could design executive scorecards to track performance or establish “value-creation offices” to provide program management office resources that track value achieved against key metrics. 

Create an interdisciplinary, high-performing analytics team.

The study also indicated that mature companies field analytics “pod” teams with diverse skills. These include a mix of roles—such as data scientists, business analysts, visualization experts—focused on tackling key business problems. There are many ways to build these teams,  including attracting new specialized talent from competitors, establishing external branding focused on attracting talent, initiating internal training programs, and establishing nontraditional career paths that reward subject-matter expertise.

Deploy new capabilities faster.

One of the differentiators shared by the mature companies studied was their preparedness and ability to scale. These organizations pilot with the intent to scale; that is, they establish the right mindset, processes and accountability to quickly test, learn, refine and implement. In fact, 68 percent of the study respondents cited “scaling” as a key priority capability they had gained from designing and implementing their own analytics organization. Using an approach that includes scaling right from the start can help businesses improve talent acquisition; rationalize vendors, suppliers, data and tools; and optimize analytics investments.