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Business Insights from Analytics

T.C. Seow | Sept. 27, 2011
No longer an exclusive subject of data experts, business analytics is gaining enough traction to warrant a closer look by CXOs.

Ultimately, business analytics will only be as good as the data provided in the first place. The "garbage in, garbage out" rule applies, and for that reason, businesses should know how to embark on their analytics journey, lest their efforts be lost in a quagmire of meaningless output. 


Be an Analytical Competitor

Thomas Davenport, Senior Advisor to Deloitte Analytics and a Senior Research Fellow with the Deloitte Analytics Institute, is also distinguished professor of IT and management at the renowned Babson College in the US. He shares his views about the development of business analytics and why organisations should begin to get serious about it.

 CIO Asia: Does business analytics require specialised skills? Can someone be trained to be a good analytics user?

Davenport: The skill is certainly trainable. People who do it successfully tend to have some academic training such as statistical analysis and data management that professional analysts or data scientists have undergone. More importantly is, how do you communicate effectively about analytics. If you want to make better decisions through analytics, it's not about the math, it's about the relationships. Schools don't do a very good job typically on teaching people about how to communicate effectively on analytics, so I think that's one thing more effort could be made.

A global shift is taking place. For the last 30 or 40 years of the information age, the concern has been on getting the transaction system in place and getting control over key processes, among other things. Now, companies want to make use of these tools to make better decisions to manage their businesses more effectively through analytics.

Is business analytics still in its nascent stage of development, or is it mature enough to be applied effectively?

Business analytics is still in relatively early days, more so in Asia than in the US. Most large companies have some analytical capability but it tends to be kind of siloed and resides in the back office - invisible to the rest of the organisation. What I think is really very new is saying this is an enterprise capability - a strategic capability - something that the entire management team needs to be aware of. Such organisations are what I'd call "analytical competitors". There aren't a whole lot but certainly growing in number.

What about language skills?

The global language of analytics is pretty much English. That gives Singapore a real advantage over a lot of countries in Asia. The other Asian country that has done pretty well in analytics is India. Mathematical skills and English skills are the two things that are brought together and made business analytics work.

Isn't analytics taken care of by ERP, SCM solutions?


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