Customer Analytics Tools Are Sprawling

Inspired by questions raised in an internal study of business intelligence (BI) integration trends, Unisys and KRC Research polled 150 top executives and IT decision-makers to examine the concerns and goals of companies that have deployed a comprehensive analytics strategy. They found that even as firms strive to bring their analytics efforts under a single umbrella, outside forces are pushing growth and adoption, in some cases faster than companies can adjust. "Companies are looking for a single version of the truth, but many times--when looking at a solution that consolidates islands of data--the costs of those types of projects outweigh the benefits," says Michael Zubey, Unisys senior manager of BI. Although virtually all respondents, chosen exclusively from firms with $500 million or more in annual revenue, said that they had at least considered integrating BI efforts across the company, fewer than half of the IT decision-makers in the study said that they had actually achieved such integration. One possible explanation for both phenomena is the spotlight on analytics coming from the regulatory world. "Before, we had seen 60 to 70 percent [interested in standardization,]" Zubey says. "It's people having Sarbanes-Oxley on the brain--seeing [other] companies fined for violating those laws. They know they need to fix these processes for proper compliance." Risk management and compliance are still less frequently cited than revenue gains or cost reductions as a reason for implementing coordinated BI, it was cited as a driver more frequently than in past surveys. About two-thirds of large companies (those over $3 billion in annual revenue) said risk management fed into their BI strategies. Relatively smaller firms were more likely to see BI as a source of revenue generation and process improvements, while larger firms were looking to control costs and risk. As a result, the survey shows that very large companies have amassed a daunting collection of BI systems: About half of these large firms have 11 or more deployed. The good news for minimizing the pain of consolidation is that those seeking integration are more likely to keep their customer analytic resources in-house. Fewer than half of the IT executives surveyed outsource significant components of their analytics architecture. Because penalties for incorrect assumptions or flat-out deceptive corporate data reporting are on the rise, more firms with a serious stake in company-wide data tracking, and analytics are expected to audit and integrate their processes. According to Zubey, falling prices for high-end data warehousing hardware can help ease the pain of historically expensive integration efforts. Related articles: How Can Predictive Modeling Boost Sales Results?
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