More than 87 per cent of organisations are classified as having low business intelligence (BI) and analytics maturity, according to a survey by consultancy firm Gartner. This creates a big obstacle for organisations wanting to increase the value of their data assets and exploit emerging analytics technologies such as machine learning.

Organisations with low maturity fall into ‘basic’ or ‘opportunistic’ levels on Gartner’s IT Score for Data and Analytics. Organisations at the basic level have BI capabilities that are largely spreadsheet-based analyses and personal data extracts. Those at the opportunistic level find that individual business units pursue their own data and analytics initiatives as stand-alone projects, lacking leadership and central guidance.

“Low BI maturity severely constrains analytics leaders who are attempting to modernize BI,” said Melody Chien, a senior director analyst at Gartner. “It also negatively affects every part of the analytics workflow. As a result, analytics leaders can struggle to accelerate and expand the use of modern BI capabilities and new technologies.”

According to Ms Chien, organisations with low maturity exhibit specific characteristics that slow down the spread of BI capabilities. These include primitive or aging IT infrastructure; limited collaboration between IT and business users; data rarely linked to a clearly improved business outcome; BI functionality mainly based on reporting; and bottlenecks caused by the central IT team handling content authoring and data model preparation.

“Low maturity organisations can learn from the success of more mature organisations,” said Ms Chien. “Without reinventing the wheel and making the same mistakes, analytics leaders in low BI maturity organisations can make the most of their current resources to speed up modern BI deployment and start the journey toward higher maturity.”

According to Gartner, there are four steps that data and analytics leaders can follow in the areas of strategy, people, governance and technology, to evolve their organisations’ capabilities for greater business impact.

1. Develop holistic data and analytics strategies with a clear vision
Organisations with low BI maturity often exhibit a lack of enterprisewide data and analytics strategies with clear vision. Business units undertake data or analytics projects individually, which results in data silos and inconsistent processes.

Data and analytics leaders should coordinate with IT and business leaders to develop a holistic BI strategy. They should also view the strategy as a continuous and dynamic process, so that any future business or environmental changes can be taken into account.

2. Create a flexible organisational structure, exploit analytics resources and implement ongoing analytics training
Enterprises must have people, skills and key structures in place to foster and secure skills and develop capabilities. They must anticipate upcoming needs and ensure the proper skills, roles and organisations exist, are developed, or can be sourced to support the work identified in the data and analytics strategy.

With limited analytics capabilities in-house, data and analytics leaders should strive for a flexible working model by building “virtual BI teams” that include business unit leaders and users.

3. Implement a data governance programme
Most organisations with low BI maturity do not have a formal data governance programme in place. They may have thought about it and understand the importance of it, but do not know where to start.

Analytics leaders can consider governance as the ‘rules of the game.’ Those rules can support business objectives and also enable the organisation to balance out the opportunities and risks in the digital environment. Governance is also a framework that describes the decision rights and authority models that must be imposed on data and analytics.

4. Create integrated analytics platforms that can support a broad range of uses
Low-maturity organisations often have primitive IT infrastructures. Their BI platforms are more traditional and reporting-centric, embedded in enterprise resource planning systems, or simple disparate reporting tools that support limited uses.

To improve their analytics maturity, data and analytics leaders should consider integrated analytics platforms that extend their current infrastructure to include modern analytics technologies.

About the survey

The survey results represented here are based on 813 responses collected from Gartner’s IT Score for Data and Analytics from October 2017 through June 2018.

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