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Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) Forum Africa

Written on 24 Oct 2016

One of i2i's objectives is to increase the use of client data and analytics used by financial service providers (FSPs) to understand underserved clients. As part of this, we are conducting a scoping study on the use of data and analytics by FSPs, with various hypotheses being explored. The first is the difference in adoption and use of data and analytics across different countries, markets, industries and between different FSPs. Some countries utilise data and analytics to a greater extent, both in terms of the degree to which data and analytics informs decision-making throughout the organisation, and the level of sophistication of the analytics. These differences are influenced by country-level and ecosystem-level factors, but are also driven to a large extent by organisational factors like organisational support for data and analytics and leadership.

However, adopting new data sources or implementing new analytical methodologies and processes within an established business environment is difficult. Companies have compared this to “trying to change tires on a moving car”. Statistics about data and analytics projects confirm this, with between 50% and 70% of projects ending up in failure. One of the key factors of success for project implementation is having sufficient representation at the executive level of decision-making. Centralising and elevating responsibility for data and analytics in a company also has other benefits in terms of justifying return on investment and integration and democratisation of data and analytics throughout the organisation and between business silos.

For this reason, i2i attended the Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) Forum Africa in Johannesburg in September 2016. Our aim being, to explore the degree to which analytics leadership is being recognised in this market. The two-day conference brought together the senior analytics community across South Africa to discuss the most critical data and analytics challenges for various business areas; finance, human resources, sales and marketing, the supply chain, risk, investment and the customer. In addition, the event explored what analytics means to respective organisations and how they harness its power to improve and modernise processes, performance and profitability. Companies including Absa Captial, Multichoice, Woolworths, FNB, Standard Bank, Zoona and Uber presented case studies on how they are using analytics to derive business value.

South African organisations are beginning to realise the value that lies within their data, but face numerous challenges to realising this value (depending how mature they are on their data and analytics journey). Organisational change management was one of the biggest factors for success. The need to start with a business question, as well as starting small but building for scale, were also important. Other issues included acquiring and retaining talent due to the skills shortage, how to promote a data sharing culture across the organisation, and how to package and communicate insights to get c-level executive buy in.

i2i's scoping study on FSP use of data and analytics will be available on our website in November 2016.