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Interview: Deloitte Report on Business Analytics and the C-Level Executive

Business analytics is a big topic these days as organizations scramble to survive. Business services firm Deloitte understands this need for speed. So when they took a closer look, the company began to notice that not all of those in C-Suite positions need nor want the same data. They recently released a report entitled “Corner Office Analytics” to address this topic. We caught up with John Lucker, Principal/Partner at Deloitte Consulting, to learn more.

insideBIGDATA: John, Deloitte is an enormous worldwide firm dealing in professional services. How and when did your company become involved in data analytics?

John Lucker

John Lucker: We have always been “doing analytics” across all our businesses for the better part of 20 years.  Some of our practices over the years have developed groundbreaking analytic solutions that have transformed how business is done globally – including patented analytic business methods and end-to-end analytic business solutions that include unique strategies, operational and technical integration, innovative organizational change management approaches and comprehensive performance management systems to measure the efficacy of the solutions.  But in 2010 we launched the Deloitte Analytics practice to be able to expand our capabilities and build an analytics approach into everything we do. From audits to tax work to fraud detection to enhanced risk management and underwriting to data visualization to the more logistical supply chain projects, information management projects and hundreds of other creative and novel analytic solutions in every industry and business sector that we serve.

insideBIGDATA: You recently released a report entitled “Corner Office Analytics.” What was the driving force behind the need for this piece?

John Lucker: Business analytics has been an exceedingly hot issue in the business world and has received more and more media attention in recent years. As a result investors, analysts and rating agencies have started to ask questions about the topic during quarterly update calls.  In turn, c-suite executives realized they should get more involved with analytics and develop strong analytic competencies. There are certain key questions each one of these executives needs to be able to answer. We put this piece together to provide them with the most substantive and “crunchy” of those questions. We also wanted c-suite executives to realize they often times look at the same set of data but with a different lens. There are so many ways for collaboration between corporate functions to obtain even greater insights into the data they have at their disposal.

insideBIGDATA: What methodology was used in this rather ambitious study?

John Lucker: First, let me reiterate this is not a study, rather a result of observations made by our analytics professionals around the world. We meet daily with each set of clients at many dozens of companies and there are some common traits that you find here in the report. We came together in this process and discussed what common trends we see in the marketplace, what our clients are struggling with and how we as Deloitte can provide the most valuable insights and services to help out clients.

insideBIGDATA: Well, what did you find?

John Lucker: Some c-suite executives have quickly discovered the power of analytics, while others were more reluctant to embrace it. We see companies that embrace analytics across the enterprise as being more successful than their competitors.  These observations have also been supported by academic studies that conclude that analytic oriented and metric-driven organizations outperform those that do not embrace analytics holistically.

insideBIGDATA: What surprised you the most about the results of the investigation?

John Lucker: We were most surprised by the lack of cross functional collaboration within many companies (siloed corporate structures) and feel that no one really helps the c-suite executives take a look outside their silos. We also found that many of the smaller boutique analytic firms and even other big fours concentrated disproportionately on individual tactical solutions and specific corporate functions and organizational structures – often without clear value propositions.  We also found far too much focus on “doing things versus getting things done”.  Some of the efforts we observed companies doing were very specialized analytics but there was not often a clear line of sight to what discrete value (ROI) will result and what that means for the c-suite.  How can c-suite executives make better decisions based on data, rather than their gut instinct? How can they collaborate across functions and set a strategy for the company that has the customer at the heart of everything they do?  These questions and many others should be asked and answered and are at the heart of how Deloitte approaches analytics with our clients. Our Deloitte Analytics methodologies are highly value-focused and our commitment to end-to-end execution makes it clear how a strategic idea can become a living reality inside a company with resulting value.

insideBIGDATA: How can the C-Level players in organizations utilize these findings?

John Lucker: We wanted our report to be very hands on and give c-level players a list of questions (what we call “crunchy questions”) to start their analytics journey with.  We wanted to provide some excellent representative examples of what data could be used for and how the executives could ask their counterparts and staff for paths forward to solve their most vexing business problems. We wanted the reader to better understand what is at stake if they don’t take analytics more seriously. And we wanted them to conclude how can they stay one step ahead of their competition by taking action on the insights gleaned from business analytics.

insideBIGDATA: The report is really well done and has a ton of value. What would you like to see the next area of study be?

John Lucker: Our next study will be the second edition of the Analytics Advantage survey. We really look forward to learning how companies have evolved since the last study we did, now almost 2 years ago. It will tie in nicely to this buyer-based dialogue.

insideBIGDATA: So Deloitte has always been a Big Data company even before the term was around. What’s next for the company and this ever-growing field?

John Lucker: We have been involved in Big Data and business analytics from the very beginning and will continue to evolve with the market. We now see a convergence of analytics, digital and innovation and we will be formulating our point of view on this in the next few months.

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