CARY, NC: Business leaders already appreciate the importance of customer analytics and believe that real-time analytics will become a strategic priority over the next couple of years.

A report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, sponsored by SAS, Intel and Accenture Applied Intelligence, Real-Time Analytics: The Key to Unlocking Customer Insights & Driving the Customer Experience, was based on responses and interviews with more than 560 business leaders drawn from the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council and Harvard Business Review readers.

This found that 44% of respondents had seen a “significant increase” in both growth and revenue generation as a result from their customer analytics efforts, while 58% reported significant improvements in customer retention and loyalty.

But few (16%) felt their brands were “very effective” at delivering real-time interactions across various channels, while one third (30%) said they were “not effective at all”; despite that, half (51%) felt real-time customer analytics had given them a better understanding of the customer journey.

A majority (60%) of business leaders surveyed believed the ability to deliver real-time customer interactions was “extremely important” today, and even more (79%) said it will be within two years; 70% had increased spending on real-time customer analytics solutions over the past year.

“Real-time customer analytics are a strategic priority – now and in the future," said Alex Clemente, Managing Director of Harvard Business Review Analytic Services.

Early adopters are “already reaping tremendous benefits”, he said, adding: “Strategic alignment and a willingness to constantly retune analytical methods are critical to those most successful in creating personalized customer experiences at scale.”

Therein lies the problem for many businesses, which lack appropriate infrastructure and technology to access and interrogate customer data. Transformation must start at the top and be a company-wide effort, the study said.

“To differentiate their brands and deliver on customer needs, successful brands have a customer experience management strategy, at the heart of which is predictive analytics,” says Wilson Raj, Global Director of Customer Intelligence at SAS.

“The issue becomes less about who owns customer experience, but how the entire C-suite executes on it.

“When CMOs, CIOs, and other C-level execs unify customer data and apply smart, robust analytics, they will inform marketing activities, uncover new opportunities and even influence the business well beyond marketing.”

Sourced from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services; additional content by WARC staff