Business leaders sleeping through the analytics revolution

Picture of Michael van Duijn CEO ORTEC Consulting Group

Michael van Duijn CEO ORTEC Consulting Group

Big Data and Analytics are driving a revolution in the business world. On that much everyone agrees, from Harvard Business Review to Gartner and government agencies to cutting-edge think tanks. Though how the business landscape will have changed as a result five or even three years from now, that nobody knows. But of one thing ORTEC Consulting Group CEO,  Michael van Duijn is certain: doing nothing is not an option. At least not if your company has ambitions to maintain or increase its prominence on that landscape in the future. To put it simply: don’t become a data dinosaur.

To give an idea of the sheer volume and speed at which data is now being generated globally, Michael van Duijn cites two examples. First, the widely-held hypothesis that more data has been produced in the last two years than in all of human history prior to that. And secondly, that on recently being appointed by President Obama as the first US Chief Data Scientist, one of DJ Patil’s first steps was to release some 130,000 new data sources into the public domain in the hope that individuals and organizations could leverage value from them for society.

“In other words Big Data is here, it’s not going away and it’s getting exponentially bigger by the day. So the question is, how is your organization going to respond?”

Companies score themselves low on analytics 

Given all of the above, you might imagine that every senior executive out there would be prioritizing Data Analytics in a hurry right now. And while some are, Michael’s experience is that many remain skeptical or complacent. Typical is a recent talk he gave to some 80 customers. So that’s mid-size to large companies who are already using ORTEC technology to optimize their resource planning and asset utilization.

In a quick exercise during his presentation, Michael asked these business leaders to rate where their company was in terms of dealing with Big Data and setting up Analytics teams. From Level 1: Ignorant (e.g. because too busy with other things) through to Level 4: We’re on top of it and regard ourselves as an ‘Analytics Company’.

“Around 50% of the audience put themselves at level 1, another 40% at level 2. No one put themselves at level 4. Now obviously this isn’t scientifically robust research, but it does underline how companies are still holding back.”

Where to start?

Michael hears many executives say they need to be convinced of the relevance of Big Data and Analytics before they’ll even investigate the opportunities it might offer. “The response tends to be: ‘Bring me the business case’. But you often need a different type of talent, a different set of eyes, within your company to spot that business case.”

For many organizations one of the biggest stumbling blocks is where to start. So ORTEC Consulting Group has developed its Analytics Performance Assessment. This exercise takes about 10 days, during which ORTEC experts assess where your company is in terms of Analytics Maturity, what steps you should take next and how quickly you should move – because quicker isn’t always better if a company isn’t ready for the next step. Perhaps not surprisingly, Analytics Maturity Performance Assessments and Big Data Workshops are proving a valuable service for customers, who report how the exercise has helped clarify their way forward in terms of Analytics and Big Data.

30 years ahead of the curve

But why ORTEC Consulting Group and not, for example, a typical consulting firm that has added Analytics to its offering? First, argues Michael, because getting the most out of Big Data and Analytics calls for people who understand data and analytics at a far higher level of intelligence and competence than, say, the traditional business intelligence, reporting or marketing analytics person.

“ORTEC has effectively been doing advanced analytics work since 1981. Back then it was called Operations Research, but in essence what we do hasn’t changed so much. Today, ORTEC has over 500 of those higher level analytics scientists at all levels of the company, from the brightest crop of recent graduates to people who’ve helped pioneer the whole field. That means we can support companies on both the technology and process side of things, helping them identify the right strategy and tools; but also with people (data analysts, data scientists, optimization engineers) who can share knowledge and help implement best practices around analytics.”

Michael feels companies will increasingly require two types of analysts. “You probably need more analytics people who will bond to your organization long-term as employees, developing a deeper affinity with analytics and how to apply it in your business. But at the same time you also need access to specialists who can come in short-term to initiate or implement specific (technical) aspects of your analytics strategy.”

Talent when you need it

Which is fine in theory, but as many companies are discovering, finding such people isn’t so easy. As happens when an area sees explosive growth in demand, there is now serious scarcity of quality data scientists on the market. In response, the ORTEC Consulting Group is strengthening its offering in terms of outsourcing of talent.

“We’ve always provided people to companies to help on specific analytics projects. But in the last year or so demand has become ever more specific. So instead of someone with skills in forecasting, for example, companies now also require that same person to have experience using forecasting tools. Because we’re so immersed in the field, and see the evolving challenges our customers face across virtually every operational area and industry, we’re ideally positioned to evaluate and use the commercial tools clients will need support with, and then ensure we maintain a pool of talent with cutting-edge skills in those tools.”

The C-word

So in a seller’s employment market, how is it that ORTEC can continue to attract and keep hold of the best people? Michael thinks there’s a simple explanation. “For the real talents, the people who live and breathe advanced analytics, ORTEC offers career opportunities they simply won’t get in companies where analytics isn’t core business.”

Then there’s that indefinable C-word. “It’s also a cultural thing: people who have a real passion for analytics fit in well here. New colleagues often say there’s a different feel at ORTEC, a buzz about what Big Data can now do for a customer’s business and the many even more amazing things it might be able to do in the future. You can’t really replicate that.”

Another reason Michael believes businesses turn to ORTEC goes back to the issue of Analytics Maturity. “Companies now want help working towards the top of the Analytics Maturity curve. You can only really provide that help effectively if you’ve climbed that curve yourself, as ORTEC has. Only then have you got that strategic, big picture perspective that can add value for your clients.”

And the future…?

So what’s Michael’s vision for the coming years? “Well to be honest, developing any kind of long-term vision in a field that’s evolving so fast is pretty tricky,” he laughs. “But at ORTEC we truly believe that advanced analytics and optimization are essential for any company that wants to survive, innovate and outperform. And because this trend isn’t going away, and data will become more and more available, that promises a great future for ORTEC.”

And how will the world of analytics look in five years? “Again, difficult to say. I anticipate more specialization, with analytics experts and players in marketing, supply chain, healthcare, aviation, professional services, Oil & Gas… whatever the market needs. So at ORTEC I expect us to be developing new offerings that are even more specialized and more targeted at certain specific markets.”

Michael also sees a slightly changed role for ORTEC as this relatively young discipline of Big Data matures. “Currently we undertake something of a joint journey of discovery with our customers. Figuring out with them how they can leverage most value from the mass of data available to them. It’s a fascinating, fun and rewarding process. But five years from now I’m confident ORTEC will have figured out that journey for its customers. So you’ll see more laser-focused solutions on both the technology and the consulting side.” A prospect many companies will relish. Provided they’ve not waited too long to start their own journey now.

Take The Analytics Performance Assessment

To learn more about the ORTEC Analytics Performance Assessment or discuss how ORTEC can help your business with Big Data and Analytics, : Patrick Hennen, Director Advanced Analytics and Solutions at ORTEC Consulting Group at +31 88 678 3265.

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