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The future of business: Respond to the unpredictable or risk the consequences

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The Brexit vote in June signalled an end to business as usual for British companies, as a rapid fall in the pound created waves of uncertainty and nervousness among businesses and consumers alike.

Hot on the heels of Brexit came Marmitegate, a stand-off between Unilever and Tesco, caused by Unilever trying to increase the price of its products by 10% to offset the falling value of the pound against the euro and dollar. Tesco responded by removing Unilever products including Dove soap and Hellmann’s mayonnaise from its website.

Although the dispute was resolved after a day of blanket media coverage across the country, it illustrated how quickly pricing volatility can damage supplier relationships and ultimately brand reputation and sales.

Marmitegate may have been resolved, but one clearly-defined message has emerged; there is a growing need for businesses to learn how to respond to the unpredictable – or risk the consequences.

However, it seems that many businesses are far from ready for a new era of uncertainty. MHR Analytics recently commissioned a survey of 300 UK C-Level executives, which found that fewer than half are very confident that their business is able to respond quickly to short term economic volatility.

The big data reality

So how can SMEs and multinational corporations alike start to adopt processes that will protect them from the effects of unpredictable events? The answer is big data. It’s been around for a while, but 2017 will finally be the year that the big data hype turns into a reality that business leaders cannot afford to ignore.

Gartner believes the business world is approaching the final stages of a multi-year shift from IT-led, system-of-record reporting to business-led, self-service analytics. MHR Analytics research confirmed that 88% of C-level executives agree that data analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) will be crucial to the future of their business.

Yet, despite this, our research revealed that 59% of C-suite executives don’t understand big data as much as they would like to; just over half (52%) said it’s difficult to put together a business case for big data and only 17% said their BI strategy is championed by a senior member of the business.

The research plots the progress of UK organisations on the journey to data maturity against a new BI maturity model, representing the five distinct stages of the data analytics path, from Unaware to Transformational.

It found that a third (33%) are still at the very beginning of their data maturity journey, at the unaware stage, where there is no senior buy-in and no defined processes for analytics, decision making or performance metrics. And this needs to change if businesses are to stand a chance of staying ahead of the competition, especially in times of uncertainty.

Bringing business intelligence to life

Every organisation, regardless of sector can benefit from becoming more analytical across the board. Many businesses in the UK today are taking a fragmented approach to BI, with several individual strategies being defined and implemented in different departments but this is only just the beginning for many organisations.

Today’s current information and technology-driven marketplace produces more information than has ever been available before. But the question that remains is what to do with it and how can businesses leverage this to remain competitive?

In order to get the most out of their BI projects, businesses need to create a strategy that spans the entire organisation with a consistent approach across all departments and business units. When interpreted and used correctly, big data and analytics has the power to bring vast benefits to an organisation, from reduced costs, to meaningful insights that can bring data to life.


Nick Felton

Nick Felton

Nick Felton is Director at MHR Analytics, a specialist Business Intelligence and Data company. Nick joined MHR back in July 2014. As Director of Analytics, Nick is responsible for all commercial aspects of Business Analytics and provides businesses and organisations with support and insight to help them use data to become competitively advantageous in their market place.

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Tags: Big Data, Business, Business Management