Investing in analytical sophistication is the key for organisations to reap strong benefits from their data

According to business trend forecasters, 2014 is the year when businesses will sharpen their focus on big data. It is projected that businesses will place more emphasis on analytics projects, data-related security and privacy, and a new generation of cognitive-intelligence applications.

Deloitte Singapore and ACCA Singapore conducted a first-of-its-kind survey that assessed the state of analytics readiness at leading corporations in Singapore. Although the survey was conducted in Singapore, findings are relevant globally as technology has levelled the playing field for everyone, regardless of their country of operation.

The survey states that the higher the level of analytical sophistication in an organisation, the more the organisation is able to reap strong business benefits from their data. This is true across industries, even on the social media space.  We are seeing more social media content’s increased use of data based info-graphics, revealing that companies are becoming analytically inclined.

The survey’s key findings:

1. Finance is driven most by analytics

Finance was identified as the function most driven by business analytics. Research identified the top three uses of analytics in the finance department being in the areas of financial planning and analysis (92%), financial control (51%) and statutory reporting (47%).

There is still large untapped areas of opportunity to use data analytics– most of the organisations surveyed applied analytics to some of their business processes and left a great deal of data un-used for decision-making.

2. CFOs play an important role in overcoming structural challenges

According to the survey, Finance has been identified as the function most driven by business analytics (77%). This means that CFOs can play an important role in enhancing structural integration. There is an increasing demand for CFOs to take the lead and solidify partnerships between finance and business teams – it is the finance department that is uniquely positioned to have full access and visibility over the organisation’s data.

3. Barriers must be overcome for businesses to experience full potential of analytics

South Africa is no longer excluded from the global way of working, therefore our organisations need to start implementing data analytics. Inherently organisations will be slow to fully capitalise on the potential of analytics, unless they are able to overcome several key barriers of which data management and quality, access to talent and IT infrastructure are the most problematic.

The survey reveals that although data analytics will become vital in business growth, more than half of respondents lacked the enough people with the right skills required for business analytics within the organisation. This is due largely to the fact that companies invest less than 1% of their annual revenue in business analytics training to build the necessary expertise. With the pace in which data analytics is moving to change the way we do business, it is becoming quite clear that businesses need to start seriously considering investing more in sophistication of their data analytics.

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