HBR Sees Investments in Real-Time Customer Analytics Accelerating

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A new survey of customer analytics spending shows big growth in the space over the past year will likely continue.

A new survey just published by Harvard Business Review (HBR) in collaboration with SAS Institute, Intel and Accenture finds 70 percent of respondents say they’ve increased their spending on real-time customer analytics solutions over the past year and just over half report their usage of real-time customer analytics has provided them with a significantly better understanding of their understanding of customer behavior. The 560 survey respondents were drawn from the HBR Advisory Council and HBR subscribers.

In term of current ability to deliver real-time customer interactions across various touch points and devices, only 16 percent of respondents say they are effective, even though 60 percent rate having this capability as being critical. A total of 30 percent rated themselves as being ineffective at providing these capabilities.

See also: Business use of machine data analytics growing faster than expected

Overall, 58 percent respondents say their companies have seen a significant increase in customer retention and loyalty thanks to increasing usage of customer analytics and nearly half the respondents say their use of customer analytics has generated significant revenue growth. That opportunity is in part one the primary reasons that 79 percent of respondents said the ability to deliver real-time customer interactions across various touch points and devices will be critical within the next two years.

SAS Institute to help further that goal announced today of SAS 360 Plan, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application specifically designed to address the need for marketing resource management. That offering is part of a suite of customer intelligence applications that SAS Institute now makes available as applications built using its core analytics engine.

The top-three drivers of customer analytics adoption

The top three drivers of increased spending on real-time customer analytics are the scale of customer-centered decisions and actions involving function across the business (69%); the need to design contextual engagements across a customer journey (62%); and improved accuracy in demand planning and product/services availability (50%).

The survey, however, makes it clear most organizations have a long way to go before achieving those goals. For example, the ability to translate data into actionable insight at the optimal time is rated as being an important goal by 83 percent of respondents. But only 22 percent say they have been successful in accomplishing that goal.

Top inhibitors cited by respondents in terms of achieving these goals are legacy systems (36%), data silos (33%), organizational silos (29%), multichannel complexity (26%), budgets (22%) and legacy processes (21%).

The primary issue most organizations are struggling with is an inability to create workflows based on real-time analytics that spans multiple business functions, says Wilson Raj, global director of customer intelligence at SAS.

“The goal needs to be the unification of customer experience across all functions and channels,” says Raj.

Unifying all the backend functions and channels required to succeed, however, will require chief marketing officers, chief information officers, chief technology officers and chief data officers to work together at a more strategic level to break down the walls that existing today between various silos of data, says Raj. Far too many customer intelligence efforts are still focused on a narrow range of tactical problems, adds Raj.

It’s too early to say to what degree organizations will ultimately be able to achieve that goal given the hurdles they face. But the one thing that is clear is that those that fail will a few short years from now be less likely to exist.

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