Is analytics a top-down mandate driven by executives, or does your company have analytics champions all across the organization who use the tools and solutions they need in order to accomplish their objectives? Should analytics be driven by a dedicated analytics organization or should it be on an as-needed based? These are questions we are asked often, and as of yet, there are no clear answers that have emerged.

We believe that analytics is inherently distributed, and distributed randomly. Some of the factors contributing to the non-centralized nature of analytics include:

  • Departmental needs are different; the analytic needs of HR or finance organizations will be different than that of marketing organizations.
  • The skill levels of teams within the organization will be different. Marketing may have a dedicated team of analytics professionals, while other departments may have what we like to call ‘accidental analysts,’ or professionals whose background isn’t in analytics, but engage in it as part of their daily job duties.
  • The level of access to data within organizations is different. For example, marketing data may be readily available for collaboration while HR data, is largely confidential.
  • The volume of data available varies (think of 5,000 rows/month at ledger level vs. millions of rows of click-thru data per week for digital marketing)
  • Needs for IT support may vary
  • Needs for tools may vary. It you are a retailer with hundreds of stores and millions of SKUs, you perhaps need SAS, but the same retailer may supplement that with an analytics platform such as TIBCO Spotfire to balance the need for power/cost ratio. Finance may still need the traditional BI tool for pixel-perfect reporting and burst reporting.

For example, a marketing organization that wants to improve the design of a campaign will analyze the results on a daily basis, monitor website visits on a real-time basis and segmenting customers constantly. Whereas HR may need to do a benefits analysis a couple of times a year to design the right benefits plan, or finance would do actual vs. budget variance analysis once a month.

Diversity of needs, capabilities, and value will drive a distributed nature of analytics. So you can expect analytically-minded people strewn throughout the company in various departments who will be busy improving the operations, cutting costs or finding the next big business opportunity. Despite the distributed nature of analytics in today’s organizations, it’s culturally important that organizations drive analytics as a central theme in all that they do. To build a data-driven organization, executives need to believe and support the adoption centrally, much like what P&G or do. In other words, the effort to support an analytics-focused adoption must be supported centrally so the results and benefits can be adopted throughout various departments.