New research from MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS finds that culture is the most important factor in achieving success with analytics

New global study also finds that companies face challenges in maintaining a competitive advantage with analytics, as more companies avail themselves of analytical tools

In new research released today by MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS managers surveyed report that an analytics culture is the driving factor in achieving competitive advantage from data and analytics, more important than any of the other capabilities measured in the study.

The new report, “The Analytics Mandate,” based on results from a global survey of more than 2,000 business executives and personal interviews with over 30 senior managers, also finds that companies must continuously innovate with analytics to maintain the edge it affords.

“We found that in companies with a strong analytics culture, decision-making norms include the use of analytics, even if the results challenge views held by senior management,” said David Kiron, executive editor for MIT Sloan Management Review.  “This differentiates those companies from others, where often management experience overrides insights from data.”

The research also indicates that companies with a top-down mandate for fact-driven decision making are experiencing gains with analytics to a far greater extent than other organizations. For example, at a large Boston-based bank’s exchange division every level of the team works to field, analyze and act on the results of quarterly surveys they send to various groups. Executive support, leading by example and evangelizing “a lot of little wins” helps to both push and pull employees towards an analytics culture.

This study, now in its fourth year, suggests that analytics is no longer a new path to value; it’s a common one. Access to useful information continues to increase, and the vast majority of respondents are investing in their analytical capabilities to leverage their data.

“As the use of analytics becomes mainstream, organizations have to do more to stay ahead of the curve,” said Pamela Prentice, chief research officer for SAS.  “Our survey participants recognize this.  Nine in ten believe their organizations need to step up their use of analytics.  This is true even among those who report having a competitive advantage.”

The study recommends that companies seeking a competitive edge with analytics ask (and answer) these five key questions about their organization’s culture:

  • Is my organization open to new ideas that challenge current practice?
  • Does my organization view data as a core asset?
  • Is senior management driving the organization to become more data driven and analytical?
  • Is my organization using analytical insights to guide strategy?
  • Are we willing to let analytics help change the way we do business?

Please visit MIT Sloan Management Review to read the full report, or for more Information on the MIT SMR/SAS joint Data & Analytics project.

To join the conversation on the study, “The Analytics Mandate,” follow @mitsmr or @SASsoftware on Twitter, or join our groups on LinkedIn at SAS and MIT SMR.

About MIT Sloan Management Review

A media company based at the MIT Sloan School of Management, MIT Sloan Management Review’s mission is to lead the conversation among research scholars, business executives and other thought leaders about advances in management practice that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT Sloan Management Review captures for thoughtful managers the creativity, excitement and opportunity generated by rapid organizational, technological and societal change.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in analytics. Through innovative analytics, business intelligence and data management software and services, SAS helps customers at more than 80,000 sites make better decisions faster. Since 1976, SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW®.


Editorial contacts:

  • MIT Sloan Management Review  Deborah Gallagher (617) 253-3967

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