The study by IBM and MIT Sloan Management Review found that there are three keys to building an analytics-ready business: instilling a data-oriented culture, hiring or developing managers who are information literate, and maintaining analytics expertise at the staff level.
"Companies that have all three use analytics to deliver advantage in the marketplace," said David Kiron, executive editor MSMR.
IBM and Sloan based their research on a survey of 4,500 global executives. Some 44% said they frequently encounter cultural barriers, such as organizational resistance to new ideas or business methods, to analytics adoption, while just 24% said technology was the business impediment to employing analytics to make decisions.
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The study's backers concluded that executives need to break down those cultural barriers if their organizations are going to get the most bang for the buck on their analytics technology spend.
"Our research shows that the early and aggressive adopters of analytics make significant gains in both performance and overall competiveness," said Fred Balboni, IBM's global leader for Business Analytics and Optimization. "These indicators point to an urgent need for organizations to foster a data-oriented culture and drive an analytics strategy that embeds fact-based insights into decisions and processes at every level of business."
IBM and MIT's findings may explain why companies are having difficulty integrating information into their operations. According to another study, the BI Scorecard 2011 Successful BI Survey, only 26% of organizations ranked their BI initiatives as "very successful."
IBM has a stake in making sure companies are able to use analytics. Big Blue has invested billions of dollars over the past several years developing information management technologies with strong analytics components.
Last month, IBM introduced a network analytics appliance for communications service providers based on technology it gained through its $1.7 billion buyout of Netezza and its $4.9 billion acquisition of Cognos. And for healthcare providers, it unveiled a content analytics tool that uses artificial intelligence algorithms from the Jeopardy-playing supercomputer Watson.
In addition to Netezza and Cognos, it's scooped up a host of smaller players, including Platform Computing, i2, and Algorithmics. IBM noted that, on a daily basis, businesses and individuals generate more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data from sources as diverse as smart sensors embedded in bridges and tunnels to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.