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Is Business Analytics Just Another Passing Fad?

by Gary Cokins, Consultant, www.sas.comThursday, July 29, 2010

Some of my most enjoyable years of my work career were employed as a consultant with Deloitte. Although they were from 1982-88, I remember them well as a formative period. I proudly refer to myself as a Deloitte alumnus comparable to a graduate from a university, and I enjoy receiving Deloitte’s newsletters. One of their communications is “Deloitte Debates” that recently posed a question if business analytics is another passing fad. Since I am a believer that applying business analytics is a competitive edge game changer, I was glad to see supportive replies from their leaders. Here are a few excerpt quotes from the debate:

“The executives I talk to every day are wrestling with business decisions where a better understanding of data at a very deep level can make all the difference. … Low-level analytics just won’t get you there. Work your way through the list of ground-shaking developments in business today – none are areas where companies can continue to shoot from the hip. Pricing. Workforce trends. Health reform. Even security and terrorism threats. These are all complex challenges where advanced signal detection capabilities are critical. … It’s no fad. It’s a serious competitive advantage.” --- Jane Griffin, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

“The retailers I talk with think business analytics is the real deal. Retail has always been about intuition – in a world of fickle customer desires, the person who can predict the next big thing is the one who wins. No algorithm could ever replace that. Right? … But the kind of predictive insight that can be obtained from business analytics is already proving to be a game-changer for some of the leading retail companies. … Analytics can help retailers make smarter choices that lead to real business value. Organic sales growth. Margin increases. Reductions in costs or spending. Talent retention. You name it and business analytics can probably help.” --- Mary Delk, Director (Retail), Deloitte Consulting LLP

“The shackles of the past (standard reports with standard data) will inevitably bind companies to increasingly failing strategies. I believe it is time leadership embraces predictive modeling to enable more effective decision making. So many companies when faced with gradual market shifts and increasing competition or strengthening barriers keep turning to old solutions and don’t recognize they are in the midst of new problems. Leadership needs to embrace the notion that analytics can help them create and find insights that will yield competitive advantage. … Leadership with many companies react so slowly to change that the companies are often in dire straits before the mandate for change comes…usually from the newly appointed CEO.” --- W. Scott Evengelista, Principal (National Life Sciences), Deloitte Consulting LLP

It feels good for me to see my Deloitte colleagues waving the business analytics banner. Somehow we are all on the same team.

About the Author

Gary Cokins is the global product marketing manager for Performance Management solutions at SAS, a market leader in data management, business intelligence and analytical software. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker and author on advanced cost management and performance improvement systems. He is the author of five books, An ABC Manager's Primer, Activity-Based Cost Management: Making It Work, Activity-Based Cost Management: An Executive's Guide (Wiley), Activity-Based Cost Management in Government and his latest work, Performance Management: Finding the Missing Pieces to Close the Intelligence Gap (Wiley). You can contact him at gary.cokins@sas.com. For more of Cokins' unique look at the world, visit his blog at http://blogs.sas.com/content/cokins.

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