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Analysing analytics

Analytics empower organisations to stay one step ahead, to out-think and out-execute the competition.

Tejaswi Shekhawat | Print Edition: October 5, 2008

Information and data are the lifelines of businesses in a globalised economy. But merely having access to these won’t be of much use. Rather, it is the intelligent interpretation and application of available data to drive decisions and actions that will help businesses to compete successfully and thrive in a world where intense competition co-exists with huge growth opportunities. Thomas H. Davenport, Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College, Wellesley in Massachusetts, US, sought to bring home these facts before India Inc. while speaking on “Analytics—The New Science of Winning” at a seminar in Bangalore, organised by Harvard Business Review-South Asia in association with Genpact.

Thomas H. Davenport, Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College, Massachusetts, US
A crosssection of people from research and analytics and CEOs from various companies attended the event. Davenport said effective data management has become a key function for organisations across the globe—companies today are tracking consumer behaviour and preference patterns, demography, economic status, health, etc. to align their business structures with target or potential consumers. “Analytics now is the meanest weapon in the corporate quiver. Data analytics can empower an organisation with crucial information and enable it to anticipate upcoming business roadblocks by revealing hidden trends and capturing key insights, on which the management can base strategic plans and operational policies,” he said.

Indeed, analytics is playing a pivotal role across all sectors: it is a handy tool in retail for learning the behavioral patterns of buyers; it is used in the manufacturing sector for better supply chain management; it creates better user interface in dotcoms and is used by the pharmaceutical industry for dealing with the drug discovery process.

While skilled manpower has always been India’s forte, business analytics has offered India a chance to move out of labour arbitrage and migrate to the higher, logical and sustainable end of the value chain of knowledge activities, Davenport said. India accounted for one-third of the total $17-billion (Rs 74,800 crore) global market for analytics last year. Seeing the vast growth opportunity, companies such as American Express, Citibank, Prudential Insurance, Accenture and many others have outsourced a considerable part of their analytics to centres in India. There are a number of established third-party service providers in the country such as OfficeTiger, EvalueServe, WMS and EXL that are offering high-end analytics services to customers across various industries like retail, telecommunications and healthcare.

Lapping it up: The audience hangs on to Davenport’s words
Analytics, which uses a wide array of quantitative techniques to analyse information, generate insight and optimise process, is emerging as one of the last remaining forms of sustainable competitive differentiation. However, Davenport rued the fact that many businesses had yet to learn to compete using analytics. “There is no dearth of data. Companies have been sitting on piles of information not knowing what to do with it. It’s very important that the top managements understand the importance of analytics for successful and sustainable growth,” he said.

Rounding off his presentation, Davenport mentioned that “leveraging the power of business analytics requires the right focus, the right people, the right technology, the right culture, and most importantly, the active commitment of the executive management to make business analytics an integral part of operating and competing.” Addressing the seminar, Pankaj Kulshreshtha, Senior Vice President & Head of Global Analytics Services, Genpact, stressed the importance of analytics— the science of data analysis— not just for his company but the industry as a whole. Genpact, he said, has been helping its global clients design customer strategy and process models using datadriven insights to help them grow globally; it alone carries out more than 700 portfolio analyses, conducts more than 2,000 marketing campaigns and generates 10,000-plus reports every month.

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