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Addressing the 'Human Element' in Data Analytics

By Chris Mazzei, Global Chief Analytics Officer, EY


Chris Mazzei, Global Chief Analytics Officer, EY

"Chris is an industry stalwart with decades of industry expertise and experience in data analytics that helps him to stand apart from the rest in the industry."

What are the current market trends you see shaping the data analytics space? What is your take on incor­porating those trends to make them effective through your solutions?
EY recently launched a joint survey with Forbes Insights on this very topic. Some of the key findings revealed that leading organizations that use advanced analytics are see­ing double digit growth of above 15 percent in revenues and operating margins, as well as improved risk profiles. Furthermore, half of the global survey participants plan to allocate at least $10 million over the next two years.

"Analytics should be treated as an enterprise-wide strategy, not an adhoc endeavor that varies from department to department"

The survey also revealed that fundamental problems arise at the crucial linkages, synapses, between the steps organizations take as they move from identifying new busi­ness opportunities, acting on insights and then measuring the outcomes. These synapses connect key steps in the analytics lifecycle: Competitive differentiation, operating model, initiative design, intervention design, and measure­ment and learning.

From a functional department standpoint, the findings also revealed:

• Customer service caught-up with IT for the #1 spot
•Customer service and sales made the largest improvement year-over-year
• Human resources showed the biggest jump, driven by in­tense global competition for talent
• Strategy and innovation behind all departments

Data in the survey is pretty compelling and gets to an­alytics being an enterprise capability that can add value across the organization. This also highlights the need to have a proper organizational model and management of a portfolio of initiatives. Our solutions are meant to help or­ganizations really accelerate and scale the value that can be created across the organization.

What are the common businesses challenges organi­zations providing data analytics services face at this point in time? As a technology enthusiast, please opine your views on the steps organizations should take in combating those.
The ‘human element’ continues to be a common pain-point in realizing value and driving transformational change. Culture, collaboration, and skills were cited as the biggest challenges throughout the analytics lifecycle. We define the human element as: culture & leadership; organizational & process design; learning & development and skills & in­centives. There needs to be better collaboration among IT, data analytics and business teams.

Here are a few recommendations to address this:
Ensure advanced analytics initiatives are closely aligned with the overall business strategy and how the organiza­tion creates competitive differentiation. As more data is unified and created across the enterprise, leadership has the opportunity to ask better questions and leverage an asset that their competitors do not possess insights about their operations and customers.

Rapidly changing workforce demands and the demand for onsite technology silver bullets have pushed technol­ogy executives towards performing a balancing act. What are your views on how these can be timed to execution?
• We are witnessing more traditional process driven organizations being disrupted by the new wave of businesses that are using data as a strategic asset at an enterprise level to rethink and reimagine their entire business.
• To better utilize data for strategic gain, enterprises already using ad­vanced analytics see the need to fos­ter a cultural shift designed to pro­mote collaboration and data analytics skills.
• When driving innovation and ul­timately growth, global executives agree on one thing - analytics should be treated as an enterprise-wide strat­egy, not an ad-hoc endeavor that var­ies from department to department.
• Critical to address this are a couple of key steps which include:
• Building bridges between the business and technical teams to design a solution that you want to put in place.
• Find common ground to build synergies and more impor­tantly, move forward.

Nowadays, a lot of hype is forming around data analyt­ics and both growing players and big-fishes in the mar­ket are ideating its benefits. What are the advantages of using data analytics for an enterprise?
• Of the executives we surveyed who have an analyt­ics strategy that is well-established and central to the overall business strategy, 66 percent achieved revenue growth of 15 percent or more, while 63 percent report­ed that operating margins had increased 15 percent or more in 2016.
• We also see organizations showing a mix of tactical and strategic goals, with a desire to develop new products or services also on their analytics wish list.
• The potential to employ data and advanced analytics strategically takes on even greater importance for the lead­ers they certainly see tactical opportunities, but they’re even more interested in how they can use data to strength­en themselves in the future. They want to transform busi­ness models, develop new products, react more quickly to market changes, and develop closer relationships with partners and vendors.

What is your take on ensuring data availability?
• To create a culture that encourages innovation, organiza­tions must look to break down barriers and open the flow of information throughout an entire organization.
• The potential to employ data and advanced analytics strategically takes on even greater importance for the lead­ers they certainly see tactical op­portunities, but they’re even more interested in how they can use data to strengthen themselves in the future.
• They want to transform business models, develop new products, re­act more quickly to market chang­es, and develop closer relationships with partners and vendors.

What is your advice for budding technologists in the data analyt­ics space? How do you see the evolution few years from now with regards to disruptions and transformations within data analytics infrastructure field services?
• As the Chief Analytics Officer for EY and in speak­ing with many leaders in different industries, I’m find­ing analytics to no longer be just a technology issue, but a strategy and operational issue. Big data and analyt­ics is a disruptive innovation that is transforming our everyday lives.
• Enterprises need a holistic plan for creating competitive advantage, identifying opportunities and ultimately mea­suring value. We believe that there is tremendous value to be gained by those organizations that leverage analytics to transform their business processes and how they make decisions. As a result, we are seeing the emergence of the chief analytics officer as more of a senior-level change agent, with a unique combination of skills in business, mathematics and technology  to work with clients to iden­tify new opportunities.
•Companies need to integrate technologies together like AI, RPA, Blockchain. Start with the business issue and then work into how various technologies come together to be a part of an integrated and differentiated solution.

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