Over the past month, I participated in predictive analytics events in Indonesia and Thailand organized by SAP with about 70 regional CIOs. There is a palpable excitement around predictive analytics these days, but I see a risk that, beyond the excitement of the demo and first implementations, a number of these advanced analytic tools remain shelfware. Why? Because tech management teams often struggle to realize the business value of these investments.

With this in mind, my presentations focused on why companies need to approach analytics with a new mindset: The business discipline and technology to harness insights and consistently turn data into effective action. My colleagues Ted Schadler and Brian Hopkins call the resulting business capability a system of insights. This approach received a lot of positive feedback from the audience and generated discussions on how it can solve their key data & analytics challenges:

  • Ensure strong business support. Many CIOs I have talked to complained that they lack business support, because business sees data & analytics as a technology responsibility and they simply do not want to get engaged. My recommendation to them: stop talking about Big Data and start focusing on business outcomes like improved customer loyalty. That’s where the System of Insights concept can help. Actually, one of the CIOs, part of a large Indonesian conglomerate, told me that this approach would really help him explain how business and tech teams need to collaborate to turn data and insights into actual business value.
  • Focus scarce data science skills on tackling the right challenges. Such skills are scarce in the region, so when you have them, you need to ensure they focus on the right business challenge. Build a multi-disciplinary team combining a business leader, owning the business challenge, a technology leader, responsible for the insights architecture as well as data scientists, domain experts and developers. Leverage human centered design and agile methods to ensure that this team focuses on solving the right business problem in a rapid and agile manner.

Ultimately, Forrester believes your organization will have to create an insight-driven culture. If you take cues from companies like Telstra, this transformation will likely take many years. But CIOs in the region have an opportunity to jumpstart this initiative and show the real value of advanced data & analytics practices. Where do you start? First, connect with the marketing team or the customer insights team. Most likely, these teams are already playing with data and could benefit from additional resources. Here you can leverage the data & analytics assets (like enterprise data warehouses, BI tools) that your organization has invested in over the years. You do not necessarily need to invest in new technologies. Second, identify insight champions within these teams that have the curiosity and passion to continuously transform business processes, market offerings, or business models to boost value and impact for the enterprise, customers, or partners. These customer-obsessed innovators are the best ally you can find to develop an insight driven culture leveraging advanced analytics tools like predictive analytics.