Implementing business analytics has risen to the top of midmarket CIOs' to-do lists, according to a new IBM study announced Friday during an event in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Eighty-three percent of midmarket CIO respondents named analytics as their top priority for investments, according to the study.
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Within the broader category of analytics, 64 percent of midmarket CIOs said they are using data warehousing platforms and visual dashboards. Another 63 percent are using MDM (master data management). Master data refers to information entities, such as specific product or supplier names, which are supposed to be consistent across a number of systems and applications within a company.
IBM interviewed more than 3,000 CIOs in recent months for the study, with 622 coming from midsized companies, which IBM defines as those with between 100 and 1,000 employees.
The study's findings reflect the fact that analytics software sales remained strong in recent years, despite the global economic downturn, as companies look to find insights from their data that can result in savings and competitive advantage.
While IBM targets large enterprises with its Cognos BI (business intelligence) and other products, the company has also rolled out specialized packages for smaller companies as well, such as Cognos Express.
Despite the apparently strong interest midmarket companies have in adopting analytics, a good number remain in the early stages of the game, according to one observer.
"Too many [midsized] businesses' ideas for slicing data don't get far past the pie-chart level," said analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research. "'Big data' isn't even the issue for them; they could get much more value than they do now just from personal-sized data sets."
That's not the case with Northeast pizza chain Papa Gino's, which is using IBM analytics software to crunch business data in many ways, said Martha Lieber, director of business systems for the 280-restaurant company, which also includes a number of D'Angelo sandwich shops.
This work has resulted in some delicious insights, such as the fact that when gas prices rise, pizza sales drop, Lieber said during a panel discussion at the event. Armed with this knowledge, Papa Gino's can make adjustments, such as running a special promotion when fuel prices soar.
Papa Gino's also discovered that while its workers were quoting delivery times of 45 minutes, pizzas were actually arriving at customers' homes in about a half-hour, she said.
"So it was a pretty apparent business decision to adjust what we were promising. We like the idea of re-setting expectations with our guests," she said.
Analytics are a big part of the chain's customer rewards program as well, with different promotions aimed at customers depending on how frequently they order.
The chain is also using analytics to compare store-to-store performance and scrutinize labor and food costs.
In addition, Papa Gino's has taken steps to ensure analytics are placed in the right employees' hands.