In a recent PwC survey of senior business leaders at 1800 large companies in North America and Europe, just 4% were classified as being ‘data elites’ and successfully using data to improve business performance. More than a quarter reported seeing ‘no or little benefit’ from their data initiatives. In another study of three-dozen companies who have put in place major analytics programs, EY found that a mere third met the objectives of their analytics initiatives over the long term.
The blame for this failure lies with leadership. For a data initiative to succeed, there needs to be a culture in place whereby data is at the heart of all decision making, and it is the responsibility of the C-suite to ensure that this is implemented. We talk to Joel Shapiro, Executive Director of the Program on Data Analytics at Kellogg's School of Management at Northwestern University, about why they are so important later in this issue.
Ultimately, the problem is that there is still significant confusion in the C-suite around whose responsibility analytics programs actually are, and a power struggle around ownership of the projects. And this is not just the case at corporations, it is also true in the public sphere. We have seen President Obama use analytics heavily from his first presidential campaign, applying it across all areas of government as the technology has advanced exponentially under his time in charge of the US. But will prospective presidents Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton continue his good work? We look at who would is the best candidate for driving government data initiatives later in this issue.
Also later in this magazine, we look at how the US police force is using analytics to try and put an end to the scourge of unarmed shootings. The police is struggling to overcome many of the major obstacles that other government agencies suffer from, as well as large incumbent companies such as the major retail banks. The companies that have most successfully used data in their operations have been the major tech firms who have been set up to be data—driven from the very start, with fewer silos, legacy systems, and greater buy-in at an executive level. Using the wealth of data being collected is always going to be hard, the question is whether it is enough to be trying to be data driven, or whether complete overhaul of business structures if necessary for data initiatives to be successful. The reality is that it is different for every organization, but as much understanding of the trends and processes as is possible will put decisions makers in the best possible position for knowing what strategy will work to see their data initiatives succeed, and which will not.
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