February 22, 2024

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Why The CEO Has A Decisive Role In Making Data & Analytics A Pervasive Success

By Akhilesh Ayer, Head – WNS Triange

As business leaders navigate broken supply chains, variability in demand and waning customer loyalty in the wake of COVID-19, data and analytics have become more important than ever. However, to achieve maximum effectiveness, data and analytics practices must be adopted across the enterprise and not merely as a standalone function. CEOs have a critical role to play in ensuring that data, analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) led insights drive decision-making and innovation at scale.

Data and Analytics Fuel Adaptive Organizations

Business leaders are certainly aware of the enormous benefits that data and analytics have to offer. In a global data and analytics survey by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by WNS, 63 percent of decision-makers recognize data and analytics as strategic enablers. More importantly, organizations with advanced data and analytics maturity have witnessed either measurable or significant benefits. Specifically, 54 percent have achieved increased revenue while another 44 percent have gained a competitive advantage.

The ability of organizations with greater digital maturity to manage the impact of unprecedented situations more effectively than laggards makes a compelling case for data and analytics adoption. Forward-thinking organizations have leveraged data and analytics to become agile and adapt to changes in supply chain, distribution and customer demand more quickly and efficiently. Organizations with advanced maturity have experienced impressive growth despite the impact of the pandemic. In fact, 82 percent of organizations with advanced data and analytics maturity have experienced positive year-on-year revenue growth over the past three years vis-à-vis only 9 percent organizations with beginner-level maturity.  

The message is loud and clear! Enterprises need to advance their data and analytics maturity to speed up transformation, and drive profitability and resilience. 

The CEO Mandate: Prioritize Investment in Data & Analytics, and Now 

While planning budgets and capital outlay, CEOs should prioritize investment in their data and analytics capabilities. According to the Forrester study, commissioned by WNS, only 37 percent are prioritizing investments in such capabilities. This indicates that though organizations recognize the strategic importance of data and analytics, focus on recovery from the pandemic has kept them heavily focused on short-term priorities. 

The study underscores this disparity between recognition and on-ground implementation, which is especially acute in some industries such as retail, hi-tech, and manufacturing and materials. The gap of 37-41 percent between those prioritizing data and analytics decision-making, and the ones planning actual investment shows that CEOs in this sector have the greatest incentive to take action. Those that do will see their organizations enjoy significant benefits.

However, on the upside, 68 percent of all decision-makers expect an increase in organizational spending in the near-term. This entails an increase in the engagement of third-party service providers.      

The Need for a Tailored Approach Backed by the C-Suite

It is important to acknowledge that different organizations are placed at different stages of their data and analytics journey, and the challenges they face are different as well. While the lack of a well-developed and clearly articulated strategy often hurts organizations at the beginning of their journeys, gaps in structure, talent and processes are the Achilles’ heel for CEOs of more mature organizations.

Our study shows that while most advanced organizations leverage a centralized data and analytics model to drive greater efficiency in delivering dashboards, data sets or models, it makes it more difficult to support Line of Business (LOB) decision-making, thereby hampering agility. Mature organizations, not surprisingly, have shown the maximum ability to develop and pilot machine learning models. However, they need to operationalize these models at scale by integrating them into business as usual.   

Whatever stage of the data and analytics evolution an organization might find itself at, C-suite involvement in the business strategy for data usage, monetization and impact is paramount.

Successful data and analytics adoption will be driven by those CEOs who clearly articulate their implementation strategy and ensure that all departments see it as a priority. This is important for extensively leveraging data and analytics across the enterprise, and not limiting the impact to a standalone function. 

Deploying the right business Key Performance Indicator (KPI) levers and measures to ensure that the true value of data and analytics capabilities is being communicated consistently is also an important enabler to success.  

The Importance of Forging Strategic Alliances

Typically, organizations need three types of interventions. First, to put in place the strategy and execution roadmap. Second, to ensure they have the right cloud-led AI platforms and accelerators that can establish proof of value and speed up time-to-market and execution. And third, to set up a steady-state centre of excellence (CoE) for data and analytics that continuously fuels innovation, drives analytics programs and delivers consistent RoI.

Business leaders who collaborate with trusted third-party service providers specializing in domain-led data-and-analytics-managed services, cloud, technology and strategy will find that tangible results are delivered more quickly and cost-effectively. These partners use their specialist knowledge and their broad view of best practices within the marketplace. Importantly, they can ensure that organizations adopt customized data and analytics capabilities while business leaders drive the cultural and managerial change necessary for their organizations to fully optimize the benefits.

This article was submitted by an external contributor and may not represent the views and opinions of Benzinga.

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