A new generation of business analysts is emerging, as organizations modernize their analytics capabilities and aim to unlock the value of ever increasing amounts of data—but a new report from search & AI-driven analytics ThoughtSpot and research partner TDWI reveals that analysts at most organizations are not reporting success from their analytics projects.
To be successful, analysts must evolve their role to empower others, namely nontechnical business users to understand data, uncover insights on their own, and improve decision-making, finds the new report, The Modern Analyst: Meeting Tomorrow’s Challenge. In the process, these analysts will be able to upskill, focus on more strategic business initiatives, and unlock new career opportunities.
Analysts note failures in data projects today
The research makes it clear that enterprises are not fully tapping the value of their analysts. Simultaneously, analysts want to be delivering greater impact to their broader organization. Currently, business analysts are spending a disproportionate amount of time compiling reports and dashboards rather than focusing on the insights emerging from such data reports for strategic initiatives. The majority (66 percent) of respondents say less than 80 percent of their reports provide value for the organization at all. Over one-third (35 percent) want to spend more time understanding strategic business initiatives to deliver more impactful business outcomes and value for their organizations.
Analysts in North America are particularly likely to note analytics projects haven’t been successful, with roughly 70 percent stating their analytics efforts to date have not been successful in generating measurable value, while 56 percent of EMEA respondents and 44 percent of APAC respondents report the same.
Analysts need new technology to bridge the gap
Analysts want to transition into the next generation of data professionals, scale their efforts to more business users, and be more strategic partners to their organizations. In order to do so, however, businesses must reduce the dependency of their business users on analysts and traditional reports. Instead, they must democratize analytics so business users can access data on their own, freeing analytics teams tied down with reporting and to learn new skills and evolve. In fact, 44 percent of respondents cite the need to democratize analytics as the top change necessary to become more productive, efficient, and strategic in their roles. Training is also a top priority, with 41 percent wanting to see more training for data and analytics professionals.
To that end, over one-third of organizations would like to see technologies and tools automate the process to surface insights (38 percent) and build data pipelines and in data preparation (36 percent). Historically, organizations have spent too much time compiling data for analytics while only reserving a quarter of that time for the actual analysis. New tools and technology simplify this process and frees up time for analysts to dedicate to strategic analysis.
Overcoming institutional challenges
Organizations are not able to realize the benefits of modern analytics and the evolving analyst role without overcoming barriers. Data infrastructure (49 percent) and data literacy (39 percent) are listed as the top challenges for organizations, especially as they move to democratize analytics. Data literacy is more likely to be cited as a challenge by EMEA organizations (47 percent) when compared to their North American (38 percent) and APAC (26 percent) counterparts.
Organizations in the telecommunication, internet, and technology sectors have been successful at overcoming these obstacles, with respondents being more likely than other industries to say that their analytics journey has been a success. In fact, 63 percent of these companies are in the process of upskilling or have already upskilled some of their business analysts in more advanced technology. On the other hand, government organizations lag behind in analytics technology maturity, with 50 percent primarily using spreadsheets, reports, and dashboards for their analytics.
“Organizations that utilize sophisticated analytics and data driven decision-making are more likely to realize benefits such as top-line growth, higher customer satisfaction, and more effective and efficient operations than those that do not,” said Dr. Fern Halper, vice president and senior research director at TDWI Research, in a news release. “As organizations are facing pressures to operate in today’s digital economy, they need to modernize their analytics to meet current and future requirements. Looking forward, analysts have a unique role to play in terms of providing strategic insights to their organizations and as coaches and mentors to others.”
“Enterprises are looking to digitally transform with new technologies like cloud and AI. To leverage these effectively, the analyst of the future must play a crucial role,” said Cindi Howson, chief data strategy officer at ThoughtSpot, in the release. “Democratizing insights to the broader business requires analysts to stop working on mundane report-centric tasks and become more business interpreters, evangelists, and data coaches. Leading organizations have already begun upskilling for the future of work, but change is hard. CDOs and BI directors must ensure analysts have the time they need to learn new skills and grow their career, expand the use of analytics in their organization, and be the trusted, strategic partner for the organization as they navigate new technologies.”
The TDWI and ThoughtSpot survey was conducted from late July to early August 2020. The survey collected responses from over 430 respondents, globally.