data-analytics-2015
Statistical Data Analysis

Three predictions for advanced data analytics in 2015

This is a contributed article by Javier Aldrete, Senior Director of Product Management at Zilliant

It was just in the past few years that the concept of “Big Data” began to permeate the lexicon. In 2014, hype around data analytics continued to grow. B2B companies began to bypass the need for massive volumes of data from multiple external sources, and instead, applied advanced analytics to their existing transaction data to improve financial performance. Consider this statement from Gartner Research Director Alexander Linden:

“The overall amount of data and analytics is growing in every industry. CIOs need data science to extract nontrivial information. For example, it's mission-critical to determine how to acquire new customers, do more cross-selling and predict demand and failures. Normal business intelligence and descriptive analytics, and even traditional software engineering, can't handle those situations. Advanced analytics can surpass human capability in coping with significant volumes of data, and dealing with highly complex digital business settings.”

Move from predictive to prescriptive analytics. The amount of predictive data solutions available in the cloud grew dramatically in 2014. Many of these cloud-based solutions enabled organizations to glean insights from their data about “what is likely to happen.” This was an important shift from previous methods of business intelligence that utilized historical data to create backward-looking reports. As decision complexity in the sales environment increases, sales reps will require guidance that is directly actionable.

Moving forward, analytics solutions need to be more prescriptive, directly guiding reps to actions they should take. Prescriptive analytics solutions will provide answers to everyday decisions, such as which customers to call on and what products to sell. Sales reps’ experience and judgment will continue to play a key role, resulting in a powerful combination of experts plus equations.

Rise of the Chief Growth Officer.  In 2015, we will continue to see a shift in company cultures to be more accepting of insights provided by data analytics to help generate top- and bottom-line growth. As more analytics solutions are implemented, more companies will begin formalizing a position for the Chief Growth Officer (CGO). The role has yet to be solidified, but the CGO’s long-term strategy should involve taking control of companies’ organic growth.

In the past, many companies have deployed a team of analysts to produce lengthy customer spend and churn reports for sales reps in well-intentioned attempts to take control of organic growth. However, these reports are often overlooked because sales reps aren’t analysts; they don’t have the time – or the desire – to read, analyze and derive actions from these reports. They want to spend their time doing what they do best: selling.

In order to achieve sustainable, long-term organic growth — the most cost-effective source of revenue growth — CGOs will need the right analytics solutions to translate their strategy into action in the field by enabling sales reps to identify when each and every customer is at risk for defection or prime for wallet-share expansion opportunities.

Escalation of change management challenges. As more B2B companies embrace advanced analytics to deliver data-driven guidance to their frontline sales teams, they’ll need to ensure sales reps are properly trained and educated on the solution so they’ll be bought-in to change. Having a comprehensive change management plan when deploying a predictive or prescriptive analytics tool is more critical than ever. Without one, companies will continue to face the most common roadblock: getting sales reps to use the decision guidance instead of relying on guesswork.

A successful change management plan should include role-specific in-depth training and frequent follow-up sessions to help sales teams understand how the solution will help them achieve the company’s business objectives and their individual goals. It’s important to share wins early and often with sales reps to encourage adoption and foster excitement. Success stories early in the process from other reps on ease-of-use and quality of the decision guidance are powerful.

Ultimately, by moving toward prescriptive analytics in 2015, formalizing organic growth strategies and getting sales teams on board, B2B companies will be better equipped to leverage their data and improve their financial performance.

 

Javier Aldrete has more than 16 years of experience applying advanced business intelligence and predictive analytics to solve business problems in multiple industries. As senior director of product management at Zilliant, Javier is responsible for the vision and roadmap of Zilliant’s sales optimization product offering.

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