How high-performers use analytics to get the edge


Salesforce’s 2015 State of Analytics report has revealed some key differences in the way high-performing companies – that is, those who rated their business performance as much stronger than the competition – are using analytics, compared with underperformers.

The report is based on a survey of more than 2000 business leaders, directors and executives from the US, Canada, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia (not limited to Salesforce customers).

Here are some of the key take-aways for companies looking to climb into that high-performing category.

1. Analytics must be at the forefront of business strategy – and the right investments made to support this.

High-performing companies already see analytics at the core of the company’s overall strategy, and were 6.4 times more likely than underperformers to have plans to increase analytics spend by 50 per cent or more over the next two years.

There has also been a change in the way these high-performing companies are utilising data – they have now gone beyond collecting and analysing data just to keep score, and instead using it to drive business decisions. Taking a more scientific approach, 42 per cent of high-performers said they relied on empirical data to develop hypotheses, experiment and observe the outcomes, before they make a decision.

2. Analyse more types of data for many different use cases.

High performers typically analyse more than 17 different kinds of data – almost twice the number analysed by underperformers. The most common data types include emails, research data, transactional data, commercialised data, log data, enterprise system data, event-driven data, social media data, partner data and call centre notes.

Salesforce has also that while the number of data sources actively analysed by business has grown only 20 per cent in the past five years, between 2015 and 2020 this number will jump 83 per cent, bringing the 10-year growth total to 120 per cent overall.

3. Get it in real-time.

Having real-time and mobile analytics capability are now higher priority, to give the agility businesses are looking for.

High-performing companies are 5.1 times more able than underperformers to gain timely business insights from their tools, and are 3.5 times more likely to use mobile reporting tools extensively.

Importantly, any analytics tools selected should be able to handle unstructured data. High performers are three times more likely to believe analysing unstructured data will be critical to unlocking deep customer behaviour insights. And perhaps not surprisingly, high performers are also early adopters of predictive and prescriptive analytics tools.

4. It’s all about culture and collaboration.

The report found that high performers created a culture of analytics – making it instantly accessible from the boardroom to the front lines. While executive commitment to the success of analytics tools and technologies was critical for 90 per cent of high performers, they also achieved breadth of use within the employee base, with top teams being twice as likely to say half of their employee uses analytics.

Achieving this deep penetration of analytics is also important to enabling collaboration between people within the company to gather, organise and contextualising insights gained from analytics. High performers were 15.5 times more likely to say they were “always” collaborating in this way.

This means analytics tools must be accessible and useful for business users – a point not lost on the survey respondents, 65 per cent of whom cited ‘ease of use for business users’ as the second most important factor when selecting an analytics tool.

Together, these insight should help companies seeking to use analytics more effectively to gain a competitive edge.

You can download the report here (registration required).