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MIT Technology Review Identifies Success Drivers of Insights-Driven Organizations

by Alan Ho, Director of Marketing, Asia Pacific, TIBCO Software

Innovators take a three-pronged approach to drive effective use of analytics for top and bottom line success

Analytics capabilities driving business successes are at the apex of rapid technological innovation. IDC estimates that by 2020, businesses will invest more than USD 210 billion in big data and analytics tools and solutions, up from USD 150 billion in 2017. This pace of investments is already twice as great as spending on security. Increasingly, as companies look for insights to build top-line business revenue, CEOs and other top leaders are compelled to use analytics to inform every business decision.

To understand how leaders and innovators are driving strategic excellence through data, MIT Technology Review Insights, in association with TIBCO, conducted a review of business analytics technology adoption trends and held a series of executive interviews with analytics professionals in leading global organizations. These are the key takeaways:



  1. Leading an organization to become insights-driven require a C-level mandate, typically with the CEO adopting the role of Chief Insight User;
  2. Breaking down silos through data architecture, access and sharing is a necessary element of the transition to an insights-driven organization.
  3. Successful organizations put equal responsibility on the business for making sure that decisions are based on the best available data and analysis;


Advocating the Role of the Chief Insights User

“Champions are the key to the success of data analytics in the customer experience process,” says Chief Data and Analytics Officer Dr. Katia Walsh at Vodafone. This aligns closely with the first identified adoption trend that undermines the importance of C-suite sponsorship and visibility. To make tangible change around data, senior leaders must be highly visible regarding ensuring that every business decision is informed by data and the application of its results to derive operational insights. On a day-to-day basis, the CEO and top leaders must consistently perform as Chief Insights User.

Besides using data to inform business decisions, chief executives need to be seen supporting the roles of analysts, data scientists and other members of the analytics team. This not only means investing in both talent and technology for big data and analytics but to essentially lead a cultural change towards a data-centric organization.

A common theme that links all data-centric organizations is their willingness to embark upon, and sustain, significant change management projects which integrate the use of analytics in the overall business operations. Implementing such change often takes years and is usually seen as a continuous improvement process.

Beyond Silos for an Insights-Driven Organization

To build a culture around insights, data needs to be available across the business with the necessary tools, training, and expertise to support analysis and decision-making. The strategy developed by the Chief Data Officers (CDO) must include developing a common data architecture, breaking down silos, and building an analytics organization that can solve immediate business problems while also looking at the long term.

“We have implemented a group-wide data lake, and we no longer tolerate data silos,” says Munich Re’s Chief Data Officer, Wolfgang Hauner. “We have turned the rule set around: now teams do not have to prove why they can share data, but why they cannot.” Ramon Morote Ribas, Chief Data Officer at Gas Natural Fenosa also observes that the implementation of a common infrastructure globally helps manage the standardized collection and interpretation of data. This allows for improved fraud detection, asset maintenance and measuring customer value. “This allows us to employ then a data governance tool to enforce processes, improve data collection, and make that data accessible across the organization.”

Relying on Best Available Data and Analysis for Strategic Decision-Making

Companies who want to effectively drive the use of analytics and insights throughout their organization must pursue a three-pronged approach. The first is to find and develop talent such as data scientists, but not just someone with the capabilities to run and read data, but a rarer portfolio combining data scientist, expert business analyst, and communicator, to be able to tell a compelling story with data.

Technology is another important capability that insight-oriented companies incorporate into their business processes, both in terms of building robust data architecture and in investing in platforms that can accelerate the generation of insight. Despite the growing reliance on analytics, leaders are still wary of huge technology bills; this means that investments must be conducted in a way that makes the results business-relevant immediately. “We have to operationalize the data to get buy-in,” says Colm Carey, Chief Analytics Officer at AA Ireland.

And finally, organizations must create and sustain a culture passionate about data. This is a more esoteric capability than talent and technology, but one that is linked to both, and to the champions in the organization’s leadership team. This passion often takes the shape of cultural change and re-orientation of the organization’s value to give data a place at the decision-making table.

Download the full report “Engines of Insight: How leading CDOs deliver top and bottom line results.”