Industry Insights

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Forrester Reveals Biggest Analytics Challenges & Opportunities

November 11, 2014
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It’s no longer a secret that analytics is not just a competitive advantage – it’s a widely-accepted and implemented part of enterprise strategy. We are swiftly approaching a landscape where analytics is no longer an option, but a necessity, for any organization hoping to compete. So although there may still be some confusion around how valuable new analytics initiatives will be, the question is becoming less “is analytics valuable?” and more “how can we capitalize on the value of analytics?”In that light, we were excited to contribute when well-respected research firm Forrester Research approached us to collaborate on their State of Customer Analytics 2014 survey. Thanks to all who participated, we were able to host a webinar in October with Forrester’s Jason McNellis to review some of the highlights from his report. In case you missed the webinar, you can view the entire video on our YouTube channel. I wanted to touch on a few key insights that stood out to me from Jason’s presentation; the links below skip to the part of the webinar where we discuss each topic.The Biggest Challenges in AnalyticsUnsurprisingly, the most common challenges reported by analytics professionals were data-related – data quality and management – but when respondents were then asked to rank the challenges they had selected, one area clearly stood above the rest: hiring quantitative talent. Clearly, hiring is an acute challenge for many, as quite a few articles have been written about the dearth of talent in analytics and data science, and Jason reported that 80% of marketing executives surveyed said that their last analytics role was very or extremely challenging to fill.While there are no immediate answers to this challenge, it prompted me to write a blog post on what I feel are the major areas where organizations could improve their hiring processes. With talented analytics professionals going on and off the market quickly, companies can’t hope to win the talent war with sluggish and outdated processes.


Data Science: Land of OpportunitiesOf the 20 analytics methods mentioned in the survey (such as segmentation, test and control, etc.), organizations report using, on average, nine methodologies. When asked which of the 20 methods their organizations were currently piloting or using, or planning to use in the short-term or long-term, there was a distinct trend to the methods that showed the highest planned usage – unstructured data.The four areas showing the highest planned usage (both long-term and short-term) were geolocation analysis (29% of respondents), path analytics/customer journey analytics (32%), social media analytics (28%), and next best action/offer models (31%); to see stats for all analytics methods click here. All of these show organizations moving towards data science, as these areas require deeper technical knowledge over BI/reporting, and as companies move towards these technologies, it will be interesting to see how their hiring practices evolve to compete for technical talent that is increasingly hard-to-find.Growth of the Business Technology AgendaJason also brought up another crucial point: that the alliance between the CIO and CMO is becoming more important. As a strategic function, the implications of analytics are enterprise-wide, and collaboration between these two leaders is increasingly critical for success.In Forrester’s 2012 State of CMO survey, 30% of CMOs said that the CIO was a crucial partner, and by 2014 the number has jumped to 51%. Undoubtedly CMOs are realizing that to better understand their customers they need data integration, and a stronger relationship with the CIO. Forrester believes that a CIO had two agendas, the information technology agenda (which faces internally) and the business technology agenda (which is customer facing), and that the CIO’s primary focus will increasingly be the BT agenda.There is a lot more ground covered in the webinar that I didn’t write about here, so if you’re interested in an up-to-date snapshot of how the industry is shaping up this year I suggest watching it. Jason and I also took a few minutes at the end to answer some very astute audience questions that might interest you. Thanks again to all who participated!