Broken links: Why analytics investments have yet to pay off




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Sales and marketing analytics is integral to the ability of companies to thrive in today’s markets. In an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey of 448 senior U.S. executives conducted for this study, 70% of respondents say sales and marketing analytics is already “very” or “extremely important” to their own business’s competitive advantage. In just two years, 89% of respondents expect this to be the case.

The impact of these efforts, though, remains modest. Only 12% of respondents say those involved in their businesses’ general analytics efforts can stay abreast of emerging industry innovations. More telling, just 2% believe transformations in capabilities at their companies have had a “broad, positive impact.” It is clear that this remains a work in progress. 

This EIU study, “Broken links: Why analytics investments have yet to pay off,” sponsored by ZS, draws on the survey findings, interviews with senior corporate executives and desk research to explore the current state of sales and marketing analytics. Its key findings include the following:

  • Many companies are putting significant resources into sales and marketing analytics, but their analytics capability for the most part is immature. Eighty-six percent of survey respondents say their company has recently put in place—or plans to implement—improvements to sales and marketing analytics; 52% report their organizations are spending heavily on such technology or are undertaking targeted investments to make key functional improvements.

  • Companies have progressed on the technology side of analytics, but processes should be embedded more closely into the fabric of the business. The biggest challenges in the analytics value chain are those at the front and back ends—areas where senior analytics executives interact most with the rest of the business. Solution design and change management are particularly widespread challenges (cited as top issues by 47% of respondents).

This reflects a growing strength of analytics practitioners in the steps of the value chain dominated by technology-driven processes. However, it may also indicate a lack of understanding between—or even a common vocabulary with—the rest of the business. “Leading Companies” (see sidebar—“Two definitions”) are working to improve partnerships across the business, which might also help address the long-standing problem of poor data integration (cited by 39% of respondents).