MIT Sloan Management Review: Analytics as a Source of Business Innovation


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Competitive advantage from analytics is changing, and for the better. This was one of the key findings from the 2017 Data & Analytics Report by MIT Sloan Management Review. Based on interviews with more than 2,600 practitioners and scholars globally, the report revealed an increasing ability to strategically innovate when companies embraced analytics. The seventh annual data and analytics survey, conducted during 2016, reveals a sharp rise in the number of companies reporting that their use of analytics helps them beat the competition.

The research finds that the number of companies reporting a competitive advantage from analytics increased for the first time in four years. Several factors are behind this shift, including a wider dispersion of analytics within companies as well as a stronger focus on specialized, innovative applications that have strategic benefits.

According to Indellient’s Lead Business Analyst, Mariela Carvallo, it is evident that “data governance needs to be more than a system of tactics to derive business value — it must actually influence organizational behavior.” Basically, the success of an organization comes from building the underpinnings of a data driven company, not from jumping straight into analytics projects, she says.

“More companies report competitive advantage from their use of data and analytics, reversing a three-year trend.”

Several other factors have also influenced this trend, including a wider dispersion of analytics within companies and better knowledge of what analytics can do, as well as a stronger focus on specialized, innovative applications that have strategic benefits.

However, according to Carvallo, another important aspect determining success in analytics that is not mentioned in the article is the need to align data, skills, technology & organizational culture around the analytics solution that is put in place. “It takes time to do this and that’s why it takes a while for companies to start seeing positive results.”

Additional Key Points from the Report

  • To be most effective, data governance needs to be embedded in an organization’s culture.
  • Wider use of analytics, better knowledge of its benefits and a greater focus on applications have reversed a trend on the benefits of analytics.
  • Return on investment for analytics stems from the governing and sharing of data throughout the organization.
  • Machine learning enables organizations to discover more insight from their data, allowing employees to focus on other critical responsibilities.


About MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review leads the discourse among academic researchers, business executives and other influential thought leaders about advances in management practice, particularly those shaped by technology, that are transforming how people lead and innovate. For more information, click here

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