Motivating your people to reap the benefits of analytics

Chris MazzeiAnalytics can be intimidating. Chris Mazzei, Chief Analytics Officer at EY, takes a look at what can motivate teams to apply its insights.

Are your staff and managers intimidated by analytics? If they are, it could be holding you back from achieving any type of real change within your organization.

One-third of companies participating in a recent EY and Forbes Insight survey said that their employees don’t fully embrace analytics, and that’s a problem, since the insights and learning that analytics provides are so critical to finding future success.

In a recent post in this series, I explained how the human challenges of analytics can be separated into macro issues of organization, structure and culture, and micro issues of individual behavioral dynamics. The latter involves individuals’ abilities and sense of empowerment to make decisions or change processes on the basis of analytics. Crucially, the right motivational factors and incentives must also be in place to encourage them to act.

Two specific examples demonstrate how people can be motivated to drive the use of analytics within a business:

  • A pharmaceutical company used predictive analytics to determine which customers were likely to be late on payments. They tested several intervention mechanisms and decided that sending reminder notifications proactively in advance of the due date would have the best outcome. However, the same team that was responsible for generating revenue and increasing customer satisfaction was now also responsible for sending these notifications. This led to conflicting incentives around reducing receivables versus building long term customer relationships. The result: a far lower number of notifications were sent out compared to what was necessary.
  • Another company in the same industry wanted to use analytics to help improve the accuracy of its forecast sales to specific premier customers. This project met internal resistance, as many within the salesforce spent 30%-40% of their time collecting such information manually. It took the intervention of the sales director to reassure the sales team that the analytics program did not threaten their jobs but in fact would help improve customer service.

The above examples illustrate that targeting incentives in the right way can provide the motivation that helps to drive the application of analytics throughout the business. Achieving the right balance is critical to ensure employees see the implementation of analytics as a positive and unambiguous force. Only then will organizations be truly able to reap the rewards that analytics has to offer.

When we examine the delivery of tools and infrastructure from a technology standpoint it’s clear that the CIO leads the way, but we cannot discount the need for analytics to help improve the way we grow, optimize and protect our businesses. In close collaboration with other C-suite officers, the CIO can help drive transformative change within an organization by aligning the business objectives, technology capabilities and people incentives necessary to carry out and excel at day-to-day processes.


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