Human element is key to turning analytics into profits.


TORONTO, - Nearly 60% of Canadian businesses are making data analytics a strategic priority, but they can do more to help staff, managers and executives act on analytics insights.

According to a new report developed by Forbes Insights in cooperation with EY, 2015 EY/Forbes Insights Data & Analytics Impact Index: Don't Forget the Human Element, people and culture are critical to unlocking business value from data analytics.

Already, 31% of Canadian executives feel that analytics has better prepared their organizations to meet today's competitive challenges, compared to 20% of their U.S. counterparts and 26% globally. Canadian companies are also more willing to reward employees for using analytics in their work. Forty percent are willing to help employees expand their opportunities for advancement through the use of data analytics on the job, versus 27% of their counterparts in the U.S. and 33% globally.

Infographic: Canadian results

But Canadian firms can't be complacent. They must continue to move forward on integrating data analytics into everything they do to mine untapped value. While the production aspects of analytics (technology, tools, data and advanced analytic skills) have drawn a great deal of attention, it is ultimately people who will translate data and insights into business outcomes.

"Analytics insights can't stand alone. They should be used to drive better business decisions and create value for the organization," says Steven Maynard, EY partner and Analytics Leader. "That's where the focus on people comes in. Leaders need to make sure that their staff are fully equipped and encouraged to use data analytics insights in their daily work."

Globally, in 39% of leading analytics organizations—versus 12% of the rest—analytics skills are recognized, effective, efficient, monitored and clearly used to support decisions. More than one-third of the top organizations also have well-defined competencies for each role and level, along with robust training programs that address potential skills shortages.

"Analytics-driven organizations, where decisions are evidence-based and strategically aligned, are more competitive and agile." says Maynard. "In our slower growth economy, competitiveness and agility are two characteristics that will determine who will succeed and who will fall behind."

Other key findings from the report include: