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Investment in business analytics and analytical talent will rise in 2012, but organizations still have their work cut out for them when it comes to making projects effective and instilling the right analytical culture and skills, according to new research from Accenture and SAS.

Of the 258 North American business leaders surveyed by the Accenture SAS Analytics Group, 72% indicated they will increase spending on business analytics in 2012 as compared to 2011.

According to the survey, the top three priorities for investment are:

•    Improving analytical skills of current employees (70%).

•    Improving decision making processes (63%).

•    Hiring analytical talent (52%).

"In the past, investment in analytics has come in the form of traditional, tangible improvements from the latest technology, process improvements and changes to an organization’s structure,” says Stacy Blanchard, talent and organization lead for Analytics at Accenture. "But without parallel investment to align leadership, develop the necessary capabilities, ready the talent, and build a culture where better and faster decisions, powered by analytics, are part of the DNA, businesses will inevitably hit a roadblock and miss the real opportunity that exists. It’s encouraging to see that executives are beginning to realize this."
As indicated by IDC’s 2011-2015 forecast report, “Vendors and users will have to devote more resources to business analytics services. These will include internal services provided by IT and analytics staff, business analytics strategy development and project management, and training of all relevant end users. As more organizations with less business analytics experience are becoming interested in this technology, vendors will need to provide more guidance to these users beyond simply selling them technology."

This recommendation is underscored by the 60% of respondents saying they are missing the right analytical business skills, technical skills, or both. Furthermore, with inadequate analytical skills cited as the main reason more than a quarter of respondents described their analytical projects as underperforming, it is not surprising that organizations will look to increase investment in analytics talent and education in the near future.

“Organizations often struggle to build a culture that supports data-driven decisions and embed the right leadership and skills at all levels, despite the benefits of doing so,” says Russ Cobb, SAS vice president of Alliances and Marketing. “This research shows that companies are beginning to recognize the importance of instilling such an analytical culture, a key mission for the Accenture SAS Analytics Group.”

Just 22% of respondents indicated that business analytics is integrated across their entire organization, with 46% noting that business analytics was used only in some business units and divisions.

Interestingly, 42% of the companies who said they integrate analytics across their entire organization believe their analytics are “very effective”. In contrast, of the companies who only use analytics in certain business units or divisions, only 13% feel their analytics are “very effective.”

The study revealed a direct correlation between perceived effectiveness of analytics and integration of analytics within the organization. To bridge this gap, Accenture SAS Analytics Group introduced a repository of resources for every level of customer organizations—from business leaders embedding analytics into the organization to analysts who execute the strategy and vision. These resources, including elearning, facilitator-led sessions, highly-customized workshops, and knowledge capital and performance support, will help identify trouble spots and implement predictive analytics enterprise-wide.

The Accenture SAS Analytics Group combines Accenture’s industry and functional business knowledge with SAS’ analytics solutions and capabilities.

http://newsroom.accenture.com/news/hiring-of-analytical-talent-will-rise-in-2012-accenture-and-sas-study-finds.htm

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