Poll Shows Analytics Needed Just About Everywhere

The results are in and the message is clear: All parts of the business are in need of analytics help.

In our recent quick poll, we asked the AllAnalytics.com community to the tell us whether their customer relations, finance, human resources, marketing, or supply chain operations were most in need of a boost from analytics. Marketing captured the greatest number of the 98 votes cast, with 22 percent of all those responding selecting it as their top area of pain. But that was followed closely by our "All of the above," choice, which garnered 20 percent of the vote, and finance, at 18 percent.

After marketing and finance, specific operations in need of analytics help are human resources, customer relations, and, lastly, with only 6 percent of the vote, the supply chain, as the pie chart below shows. Five percent of the voters weren't sure which direction to turn to first, while another 2 percent indicated analytics would be most beneficial in some other part of their organization not explicitly mentioned in the poll.

Surprised by these results? You probably shouldn't be.

On the message board, community discussion on the poll suggests a preference for first applying analytics in the supply chain or finance operation. Since these are indeed two common starting points for analytics, it's quite possible that many responders work for companies already employing analytics in these highly critical areas.

But why is marketing at the top?

Well, for one thing, the rapidly growing field of Web analytics is almost wholly devoted to it. Practitioners of Web analytics, and their counterparts in search engine optimization, operate with the idea of tweaking Websites to make them more appealing to search engines and users. They then measure those results through a variety of analytics tools so that the Website's impact and, ideally, its conversion of visitors into customers can be further enhanced.

Also, as social media consultant Joe Stanganelli points out in his blog post, The Beauty of Sentiment Analysis, Web watchers have some weird and wonderful theories about what we may be able to determine from analyzing the semantics of the messages zipping through the growing social media continuum. (In a counterpoint blog post, however, Web analytics consultant Pierre DeBois cautions that folks trying to analyze social sentiments today may be getting ahead of themselves.)

But even beyond these areas, marketers can certainly tap into analytics to help identify trends and patterns in the physical world that could help them determine what new markets to enter or new business models to pursue.

As you're mulling over these results, won't you take a moment to share your thoughts about where analytics can really make a difference for companies? Join the discussion below.

And, while you're at, please take the time to participate in our new quick poll, Mathematical Analysis, and let us know what analytics techniques you find most useful at your company. And feel free to email or share it with a friend!

Shawn Hessinger, Community Editor

Shawn Hessinger is a community manager, blogger, social media and tech enthusiast, journalist, and entrepreneur based in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He serves as community manager and blogger for BizSugar.com, a business news and information Website, and contributes regularly to the online business news source, Small Business Trends. He is the founder of PostRanger.com, an online content and media community, and has provided blogging and social media services and consulting for companies all over the world. He researches and writes on a variety of business, Internet-related, and other tech topics including business intelligence and analytics. He is also keenly interested in computer-aided data management as it relates to his various online ventures. A newspaper journalist with more than 11 years experience as a reporter and then managing editor, Shawn began blogging in 2006 and now provides a variety of consulting and outsourcing services in Search Engine Optimization, Web development, and online marketing to companies large and small. He is a strong advocate for the use of BI and related computer data management in business decision making, whether using software as a service (SaaS), cloud, or other applications, and in the opportunity these technologies provide to transform small startups and larger established businesses alike.

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Re: Another possibility
  • 8/15/2011 12:47:30 PM

Is marketing data more fun since the results are collected faster (a la social media, web)?

Another possibility
  • 8/15/2011 11:20:59 AM

Another reason I suspect part of the reason Marketing took the lead on this poll: Marketing analytics are WAY sexier than, say, supply-chain analytics -- especially because so few people actually understand them.

Also, dealing with your marketing (especially when you don't understand marketing and social media analytics, and spend your days narcissistically counting Likes and followers) is way more fun than, say, dealing with keeping your supply-chain costs low.

Re: Marketing needs credibility
  • 8/13/2011 2:19:11 AM


Truthfully, this has always been one of the challenges of applying an analytical standard to marketing. There are ways to measure effectiveness (we might call them conversion or brand loyalty in social media marketing, for example) but all are based on assumptions. This is even the case in online environments where the level of "engagement" can be directly measured/counted. How can we connect the number of "likes" a Facebook fanpage receives or the number of times a brand is mentioned on Twitter etc. with the purchase of that product, for example? Marketers and business leaders, of course, know the cost of not marketing at all, but measuring which techniques are effective, which are not and by how much is a more complex undertaking. 

Re: Marketing needs credibility
  • 8/12/2011 11:51:06 AM

Analytics for marketing do not only apply to web-based campaigns, though almost all marketing campaigns today also get notice on company web sites and Facebook pages. One example that I wrote about was Honest Tea's Honest Cities marketing campaign. After last year's campaign it recorded double digit growth in sales in each of the cities in which it ran its honesty experiment. In some it even exceeded 50% growth.  While the numbers sound very impressive, the video does not clarify the appraoch to the data and whether or not there was a way to determine if the growth could be attributed solely to that campaign.

Re: Marketing needs credibility
  • 8/12/2011 9:20:31 AM

Hi Beth,

Yes! A great point, and probably something to be included under the part about the importance of analytics to marketing beyond the Web. In fact, though it still involves Web technology in the way the service is being delivered, our recent post about using Groupon-like online advertising services to give some credibility to traditional newspaper advertising is a great example of a solution moving in this direction. Presumably part of the reason people are traveling to a newspaper's online site is still based to some degree on the popularity of the print only version. I would say that using analytics to measure marketing response in the real world offline will be an increasing focus for many companies.

Marketing needs credibility
  • 8/12/2011 9:06:11 AM

Shawn --  while I agree Web and social media initiatives are spurring the need for analytics in the marketing operation I think there's another reason, too -- marketing is lacking in credibility overall. Applying analytics to marketing campaigns -- measuring the potential of one option over another before launching a full-blown campaign and then carefully analyzing results, for example -- is sorely needed at many companies. Maryam Donnelly discusses the mandate in her recent blog, here.