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There's a danger when we turn to competitive analysis to compare progress against others in the same industry. If you're in an industry where digital transformation is slow in coming, or digital analytics are considered "new," you'll never have an example to follow because everyone's trending at the same slow speed. We've already seen how competitive analysis can act as a distraction when coming up with digital strategies. So when we took the first pass at the data from the EY Digital Analytics Benchmarking Survey, we kept this idea in mind.

We separated the 120 organizations that participated in the survey into those that make 50 percent or more of their revenue online (Engagers), and organizations that make less than 50 percent of revenue online (Explorers). While the results do have some industry alignment, this approach broadens the opportunity to compare and contrast. It also helps those in the Explorers bucket to see more clearly how they differ or share the same attributes as the Engagers bucket and what they might do to move up the analytics maturity curve more quickly.

Though we’re still in the early stages of analysis, there are a few findings to share:

Commitment to Digital Drives Commitment to Analytics

Nearly 75 percent of the Engagers had a digital strategy and nearly 50 percent have governance councils in place to help operationalize the strategy. A little more than a third of the Explorers have a digital strategy and just above a quarter have governance in place to operationalize the strategy.

It seems implicit that companies committed to a digital business model are including analytics as a foundational element for operationalizing the strategy. On the other hand, Explorers that aren’t including digital as part of their overall business strategy will be hampered in making a faster transition to digital channels and losing opportunities to leverage knowledge from digital data.

This difference in analytics maturity was borne out throughout the survey in gaps between the groups in staffing, executive sponsorship, team size and length of time with a digital analytics capability.

Agreement that Digital Analytics Insights Adoption is the Biggest Opportunity …

... but it doesn’t appear to be getting a great deal of investment.

Explorers and Engagers were nearly unanimous in identifying adoption of insights as the biggest opportunity for their organizations in digital analytics. When we talk about insights, we're looking at how to institutionalize the value of digital analytics into decision making that supports digital channel decisions. This is a challenge that nearly all of our clients face.

Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of investment in staffing. Roughly 5 percent of the respondents in both Engagers and Explorers have a dedicated resource for training.

Each group agrees that finding qualified staff is one of the biggest challenges. Hiring those who have a communications or training background with strength in presentation, design and demonstration skills would be a good investment. These team members can focus on developing training, resource, education and presentations that “speak” to potential users of digital analytics insights. They don’t need to be analysts, they just need an understanding of the data's business uses and the ability to work with both analysts and business stakeholders to bridge the gap between data and communicating how to use the data.

The Secret to Getting Value from Dashboards

Analytics dashboards are bread and butter services provided by digital analytics teams which ranked high for both Engagers and Explorers, right behind conducting analysis. The relative value of producing dashboards is an ongoing debate in the digital analytics community. Do they provide value to users? Are they easy to use? How often to distribute them? What type of follow up and explanation is required? 

We asked analytics managers to estimate the decision support value of the dashboards they distributed. For example, did they think more than 50 percent of the distributed dashboards helped stakeholders make decisions?

This type of self-assessment is difficult and there was likely some overstatement of optimism amongst the more positive responses. However, a few interesting data points surfaced. For respondents who indicated that more than 50 percent of the dashboards were valuable, two differentiators set them apart from the group with less than 50 percent value -- use of visualization tools and more frequent engagement with stakeholders.

This makes sense. Better visualization tools equals more flexible ways to slice data, provide self-service segmentation and calendar view and so forth; more frequent engagement equals explaining how to use the dashboards, answer questions about the data and apply insights to making decisions.

Is there a sweet spot for frequency of engagement? It looks like there could be. The more than 50 percent group generally conducted follow up and engagement within a month’s time. The less than 50 percent group had a high percentage of quarterly presentations. This may be too infrequent to sustain engagement.

As we go further into our analysis, I’ll share more of our findings.

 

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