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August 6, 2019

Corporate Culture Continues to Stymie Data Insights

George Leopold

via Shutterstock

Reports of the death of spreadsheets have been greatly exaggerated.

That reality is among the findings of a recent survey on the state of business analytics released by the consulting firm Deloitte. Even as enterprises hustle to deploy emerging AI technologies, the survey found a surprising number of companies polled said they still rely on spreadsheets to crunch numbers.

Despite the hype about AI improving business practices, the survey concludes that most companies are far from prepared when it comes to business analytics. While 76 percent of respondents said their “analytical maturity” has increased over the past year, 62 percent are still using traditional tools such as spreadsheets.

Hence, the survey report notes a “significant divide” when it comes to analytics strategies, characterized by data “dabblers” and “doers.”

“While the dabblers continue to execute informally disparate proofs of concept and pilots leading to minimum value delivery [the] doers are systematically embracing data, adopting analytics, AI and automation; and changing the way work is done across the enterprise,” concluded Ben Stiller, Deloitte’s analytics practice lead for retail and consumer products.

Among the road blocks are isolated analytics initiatives along with underused tools and talent that have yet to be integrated into daily operations.

Business analytics was ranked in the middle of a list of priorities identified by company executives, between cyber security at the top and artificial intelligence at the bottom of their To-Do list.

Companies are also slow to take advantage of unstructured data in the form of social media comments and customer audio files. The survey found that nearly two-thirds of respondents rely solely on structured data from in-house sources. The survey authors estimate companies incorporating unstructured data into their analytics efforts would improve their chances of achieving business goals by 24 percent.

Meanwhile, data science teams within companies were found to be small and “homogeneous,” rather than pursuing broader and preferred data “democratization” initiatives. The Deloitte survey found that two-thirds of organizations rely on a small group of trained analysts or data scientists. Only 27 percent of companies surveyed said all employees are trained in analytics.

Among the consequences of the lack of training is a general unease among top executives when it comes to data analytics. The survey found that 67 percent of executives are reticent about applying insights delivered by data tools and other resources.

The survey concludes that the biggest roadblock to leveraging analytics is corporate culture. “Insight-driven organizations represent a minority of businesses today, despite the number of years technologies such as big data and analytics have been readily available,” the survey concludes.

“Buying and using analytics tools is not hard—changing behaviors is.” Among the means of changing corporate culture in the age of big data are education and promoting “insight-driven behaviors,” the authors note.

The Deloitte study conducted in April polled more than 1,000 executives at large data-driven companies.

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