Data Analytics: An Investment In Business Value

Anita Gibbings

Big Data should bring big insights for better decisions.

You’ve no doubt heard that before. So how come the reality so often falls short of the dream?

I’d like to share some concrete examples of how analytics has delivered a solid ROI so you can apply these to your own business. These stories show how predictive analytics resulted in cost savings of 60% and $3.2 million annually and time efficiencies equal to nearly 14 full-time employees.

Benefit 1: Transformative business process improvement

Until you can bring it together in a meaningful way to gain insights, data is just data. As one hospital group discovered, the result of bringing data together might be surprising.

The team looked at data on the total cost of processes and found that by standardizing procedures, they could not only improve patient outcomes but deliver service at 60% cost savings. They didn’t discover the cost savings by accessing only one data source—rather, they brought together data on time spent in the operating theatre, patient records and return visits, equipment used during surgery, and related costs for purchase and maintenance. They also compared data on many different surgeons and locations.

Too often, data visualization is simply an illustration of one fact. But the power of analytics is in bringing data from disparate locations to show the whole picture in order to compare and contrast and look for outliers. In this case, the hospital team created a win-win, improving patient outcomes, standardizing best practices, and reducing costs.

Benefit 2: Predictive power

One transportation company that dared to think big noticed that accidents and other unplanned incidents were costing several million dollars each year (in addition to the human cost). Company leaders asked, “What if we could predict which drivers are most likely to have an accident?”

Using the Internet of Things (IoT), they identified the variables that lead to accidents – for example, excessive speed, operators not taking breaks, and other variables – and created alerts so when certain parameters were broken, they could intervene in real time to prevent the accident.

The results? Accidents were reduced by 30%, saving the company $2.4 million per year. And as often happens when one area of business is improved, additional benefits also result: In this case, the company saved an additional $1.9 million annually due to reduced employee turnover as drivers felt more connected to the company and tenures increased.

Stop and consider the risks associated with your industry—how might seeing into the future help you mitigate those risks?

Benefit 3: Self-service time savings

Every organization talks about the need for a data-driven culture that enables better decision-making at every level. But most lower-level decision-makers still don’t have access to insights because IT doesn’t have enough bandwidth to service all the organization’s Big Data needs. A true data-driven culture enables all decision-makers to quickly and easily gain insights for themselves. When creating a report takes only an hour (or less), your analytics investment can really start to deliver results. One customer reported saving 28,800 hours (the equivalent of about 14 full-time employees) through data analytics, which enabled them to reallocate these employees to deliver more business value.

Every organization has a different level of readiness and need for analytics. But all businesses should take steps toward driving more value from their investments. Think big, start small, and keep expanding to more areas of business.

Never stop asking: What else can you do?

Read Forrester Consulting’s full report on the ROI these companies achieved here, and a more detailed blog post on SAP Community here.

To learn how analytics can turn data into competitive advantage, check out the SAP Analytics.

Follow me: @AnitaGibbings


Anita Gibbings

About Anita Gibbings

Anita Gibbings is a Senior Director of Product Marketing for Analytics at SAP. She leads SAP BusinessObjects Cloud and specializes in data visualization, business intelligence and data discovery.