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SAS and MIT Sloan Management Review research: UK businesses more "analytically challenged" than rest of world

UK lags behind in terms of unlocking the value of big data through analytics 

12 March 2013 - The past two years have seen an 80 per cent jump in organisations believing analytics provides a competitive advantage. According to new research from MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS, 67 per cent of business leaders surveyed at the end of 2012 said analytics made their companies more competitive; just 37 per cent felt that way in a 2010 study.

The report, "From Value to Vision: Reimagining the Possible with Data Analytics," highlights the differences in analytics maturity among organisations. Of 2,500 companies surveyed, 29 per cent are "analytically challenged," 60 per cent are "analytics practitioners" and 11 per cent are "analytical innovators."

For analytically challenged respondents, useful data is typically lacking and collaboration is low. Analytics practitioners' view their data as useful, but their analytic focus is operational and the company's analytics infrastructure is fragmented.

The research shows businesses in the UK are more "analytically challenged" than those in other parts of the world and the UK is particularly behind when it comes to using data to make key business decisions, still relying heavily on intuition. For example, only 18 per cent of UK respondents rely mostly or entirely on data to establish objectives and strategy for the organisation, compared to 31 per cent globally. In addition, in the UK a surprising 40 per cent say they rely mostly or entirely on intuition when it comes to enhancing a customer's overall experience, compared to just 27 per cent of total respondents globally.

"To bridge the analytical gap, the "challenged" need to empower business users to make smarter decisions much more quickly by applying analytics to their data," said Richard Kellett, Marketing Director, SAS UK & Ireland. "Easy-to-use, visual tools can deliver accessible insights to anyone, whether a business user with limited technical skills, a statistician or a data scientist. In this way organisations can rapidly identify and act upon an opportunity or a risk, ultimately achieving real competitive advantage."

Exhibiting markedly different characteristics from the other two groups, analytical innovators:

  • Are open to new ways of thinking, challenging the status quo and driving innovation.

  • Have progressed to using analytics for strategic purposes.

  • View data as a core asset and use more of it than competitors.

  • Are more confident in the quality of their data.

Analytical innovators also reported a subtle change as analytics becomes pervasive: power is shifting to those who back up recommendations and decisions with supporting data. Such a cultural change can have a deep impact.

"Power shifts often call into question experience and intuition built up over years. Those who know how to marshal the data and put analytics behind their decision making are now at an advantage," said David Kiron, MIT Sloan Management Review Executive Editor.

The study also provides prescriptions for the analytically challenged:

  • Start at a local level before pursuing enterprisewide initiatives.

  • Build lasting relationships, encourage discussion and share information with other departments to foster collaboration.

  • Develop an executive communications plan, including ROI and recommended actions, to build high-level support.

The research is based on a survey of 2,500 business executives, managers and analysts. Respondents represented 121 countries and more than 30 industries. Company size ranged from less than $250 (USD) million in annual revenue to $20 billion.

To read the full report, please go to, "From Value to Vision: Reimagining the Possible with Data Analytics" (

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 60,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world The Power to Know® .

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