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Use of analytics among retailers on the rise – survey
Jan '14
A new survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit finds that nearly all respondents’ businesses have seen a positive economic return from investment in data analysis for the strategy area. Also, the  single biggest barrier to retailers making effective use of data is figuring out what is useful amidst the overload—a problem cited by half of the respondents.

These are among some of the major findings of The Data Storm: Retail and the Big Data Revolution, a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Wipro Ltd., a leading global Information Technology, Consulting and Outsourcing company.

The report based on a survey of C suite executives from the retail sector in North America and Europe examines how retailers are reacting to, and how leaders are benefiting from, increasing volumes of data. It examines the role of data in customer experience, the benefits it is delivering in omni-channel commerce and corporate strategy and the regulatory challenges facing retailers, as they accrue greater and greater quantities of information.

Seventy-eight percent of all respondents’ businesses have seen a positive economic return from investment in data analysis for the strategy area. However, only 46 percent are confident that their firm’s analytical abilities are keeping up with data volumes.

Tied for the second-biggest barrier to using large volumes of data is concern over whether doing so would really help improve decisions (32 percent). Nevertheless, respondents all say their firms are prioritizing data collection, but still only 36 percent of respondents believe that they have a well-defined policy for analysing the most valuable information.

“This research shows that while retailers realize the value of maximizing their use of big data and analytics, many are still unable to utilize the data they are collecting in full,” said Srini Pallia, Senior Vice President and Global Head, RCTG (Retail, Consumer Goods, Transportation and Government) Business Unit, Wipro. “To get the full value from the data they are collecting, retailers need to explore new avenues to apply data analytics throughout the organization that will improve decision making, efficiency and interaction with customers.”

Key findings of the report include:

Marketing is still the main focus: Marketing is the most common priority for data analysis spending by retailers in recent years: 46 percent of respondents put this spend amongst their top three areas of focus. Marketing also remains one of the core areas of big data spend in future, cited by 40 percent.

Using data to improve strategy is increasingly important: For the past two years, data analysis has been used more often in marketing than in strategy, which is on par with store operations. But in the next two years, strategy is set to take the lead, with 62 percent expecting to see relevant investment in data analysis to support strategy. Some 78 percent of all respondents’ businesses have seen a positive economic return from investment in data analysis for the strategy area, the highest figure for any function or process.

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