SAS study: The need for business analytics is getting a boost from Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things

Aurel Dragan 26/10/2018 | 07:00

Nearly three-quarters of organizations (72 percent) claim that analytics help them generate valuable insight and 60 percent say their analytics resources have made them more innovative, according to research commissioned by SAS, one of the world’s leaders in business analytics.

That is despite only four in ten (39 percent) saying that analytics is core to their business strategy. A third of respondents (35 percent) report that it is used for tactical projects only. Despite acknowledged value – and most can quantify this (65 percent) – businesses are not getting the most out of their analytics investments.

However, they are now pursuing rapid analytical insight as a priority as they push into emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT).

The research, “Here and Now: The need for an analytics platform”, surveyed analytics experts, IT and line-of-business professionals in a wide range of industries around the world. It found that analytics is changing the way companies do business. This does not just apply to day-to-day operations as it’s also driving innovation – more than a quarter (27 percent) say analytics has helped launched new business models. There are many identified benefits of an analytics platform, the most common being less time spent on data preparation (46 percent), smarter and more confident decision-making (42 percent) and faster time-to-insights (41 percent).

“The findings show a strong desire in the business community to boost competitive insight and efficiency using analytics,” said Adrian Jones, director of SAS’ Global Technology Practice. “The majority recognize that effective analytics could benefit their organizations, particularly as they develop their ability to deploy cutting-edge AI. But the number of those effectively using analytics strategically across the organization could be much higher.”

The survey underscored a lack of alignment in the skills and leadership needed to maximize the potential of analytics. Many companies struggle to manage multiple analytics tools and data management processes.

“If they are to achieve success, organizations must put analytics at the heart of strategic planning and empower analytics resources to drive innovation using a unified analytics platform,” said Jones.

Views differ on the role of an analytics platform: most (61 percent) believe it’s to extract insight and value from data, but many are split on its other purposes or benefits, such as better governance over data, predictive models and open source technology. Fifty-nine percent believe another role of an analytics platform is to have an integrated or centralized data framework, while 43 percent believe it’s to provide modelling and algorithms for AI and machine learning.

The responses suggest companies know analytics can help them, but they lack a clear and common understanding of the benefits of using a platform approach across the enterprise and the analytics life cycle. It would explain why few organisations have a suitable platform in place according to results from SAS’ Enterprise AI Promise Study announced at Analytics Experience Amsterdam last year. This revealed only a quarter (24 percent) of businesses felt they had the right infrastructure in place for AI, while the majority (53 percent) felt they either needed to update and adapt their current platform or had no specific platform in place to address AI.

Despite the wide variety of uses for analytics, confidence in the end result is high. Respondents on average have seventy percent confidence that they can derive business value from their data through analytics. Those that invest in data science talent are more likely to see ROI: confidence rises to 72 percent for those in analytics roles but drops to 65 percent for standard IT teams.

The same is true when considering the future. Analytics teams are more confident (66 percent) of their ability to scale to meet future analytics workloads, compared to those in standard IT roles (59 percent).

“When we speak with business leaders who are scaling up to use analytics and AI strategically, challenges they commonly identify are the need for an enterprise analytics platform and access to talent with data science and analytics skills,” said Randy Guard, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at SAS.

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