Half of analytics investments will be a waste: Commonwealth Bank

Half of analytics investments will be a waste: Commonwealth Bank

Summary: There's only a 50 percent chance that companies will gain some benefits from their investments into business analytics, according to the bank's manager of information systems and frontline analytics David Tanis.


Organisations have a 50-50 chance of yielding any benefits from their business analytics investments, according to Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) manager of information systems and frontline analytics David Tanis.

From left to right: CBA's David Tanis, SAP's Timo Ellito, and QlikView's Henry Seddon
(Image: Spandas Lui/ZDNet)

During a panel discussion at the Gartner Business Intelligence & Information Management Summit 2013 in Sydney, SAP innovation evangelist Timo Elliott said all businesses will gain something from every business analytics investment they make, since there is a lesson to be learned even in a failed project. But Tanis, who was also on the panel, was not so optimistic.

"It's a learning experience every time we go through an analytics project," he said. "However, my feeling based on my 'finger in the air' in terms of what works and what doesn't, I'd say it's about 50-50."

The third panellist, QlikView vice president of global marketing Henry Seddon, was even more pessimistic, tipping the failure rate of investment into analytics to be about 60 percent.

"I don't think any of the [business analytics] vendors, frankly, have done enough to enable business users to utilise analytics properly," he said.

Tanis also commented on the hurdles that CBA faced when attempting to tap into big data.

The vast range of sources that data can come from nowadays presents the biggest challenge for the bank when it comes to deciphering big data for business analytics purposes, he said.

Big data has commonly been defined by the three Vs: Variety, velocity, and volume. Many organisations are attempting to harness the potential of big data for a number of uses, from gaining meaningful business intelligence to targeting marketing strategies. Each face their own challenges in analysing the vast amounts of unstructured data that are available, which can come from many different sources, including social media and video content.

Tanis said the fact that big data is made up of such a wide variety of sources is something that CBA struggles with as it tries to derive business intelligence from the data.

"It's difficult to see what some of these data sources are going to be, what they are going to look like, and how they're going to be integrated into our big data usage," he said. "We're still trying to understand what the capabilities and skills are in terms of pulling as much out of the big data as we can.

"That variety just makes it that much more complicated for people to make the mind shift we are going through right now."

Topics: Big Data, Data Management, Australia

Spandas Lui

About Spandas Lui

Spandas forayed into tech journalism in 2009 as a fresh university graduate spurring her passion for all things tech. Based in Australia, Spandas covers enterprise and business IT.

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  • the finger failed me

    Someone who uses a finger to determine success or failure of a project certainly deserves to fail. Lessons learnt are a large part of any project especially if it lands in the wrong 50%.

    If failure is that common and predicable then they need to reduce the Volume by reducing the Variety. Maybe the old saying "their eyes are bigger than their stomaches" would fit those people who continue to fail.
  • glass half full

    how can companies better enable users to maximise anaytical tools ? this is a bit of a red herring. getting the most out of the investment can be a human intelligence effort rather than a problem with the supplier of the tool. great analytics is more about the human ability to interpret the information and change it into insightful decisions rather than just 'how to use' good tools and training.

    having the right tools and training with the right peoples soft/hard/ skills to interpret the information could improve the 50% success rate.
    Emily Wright