Companies often prioritise investment in customer-facing systems over infrastructure projects, but it’s important to realise that both are critical to success, says Shailendra Kumar, Vice President and Chief Evangelist at SAP, “As the new customer-facing systems usually have a direct impact on customer experience, management finds it easy to approve the such investments.”

“Unfortunately, they often do not realise that it’s not only the customer-facing systems, but the underlying infrastructure, that makes a huge difference to the customer experience.”

He offers the example of an organisation which is considering building a mobile app to improve convenience for the customer. However, customers can be frustrated if the app is slow and not highly personalised.

Great experiences are a complex equation that require businesses to connect the dots between their experience data (X-Data) and operational data (O-Data). Organisations must focus on turning data into intelligence, automate processes and drive innovation – to not only make better decisions with real-time data, but predict future outcomes based on O-Data (the “what”) married with X-Data (the “why”).

“If management understands the importance of BAU infrastructure, personalisation through predictive analytics and machine learning, then the experience could go to a whole new level — creating a great customer experience,” Kumar says.

Skills training

When it comes to training those in an organisation with the right analytics skills, Kumar says most businesses have been investing in traditional analytics skills around data management and descriptive analytics — which is primarily an IT-driven function, rather than customer-focussed.

He argues that “The next level of analytics brings in predictive and prescriptive analytics, which requires a lot of business knowledge along with understanding of statistics to drive analytics — which should be based in the business part of the organisation.”

Kumar says that, as it is not easy to get an understanding of statistics unless one learns the fundamentals, there is a particular approach which can work well to create success in analytics.

“Organisations need a mix of IT and business to work very closely to drive analytics in the business.

“As it is not easy to re-skill current staff to deliver successful analytics projects, a mix of traditional analytics, business people and statisticians can make a huge difference to the organisation to deliver successful analytics projects and positively impact the bottom line of the organisation.”

There is an imperative to get early wins on the board to build the confidence of sponsors. Kumar says the best way to start is from understanding the biggest business pain for the sponsoring executive, and solving it using data.

“That can be a great start, as any success from solving that business problem can help create a lot buzz within the organisation, leading to business take-up.”

Register for The SAP Australian User Group Summit at the ICC in Sydney on August 26 & 27

About this author

Athina Mallis is the editor of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which SAP is a corporate member. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefits of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.


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