42-47254170-compositedEssentially, most of us are aware on some level that data is being collected about us all the time. Whether that’s mobile habits, buying habits, web-browsing habits…the list really does go on. But how are businesses using this data and getting the most from it with predictive analytics?

Many organisations are already reaping the rewards and this is set to continue. This discipline is maturing and the process is becoming more embedded within existing organisational structures. Research conducted by SAP shows this momentum has an impact on human resources where up-skilling and training will be critical to maximise the return on investment, an area where SMEs may fall behind.

89 per cent of UK business decision makers questioned said the volume of data that their organisation collects or has access to has increased in the last 12 months. With this rise in data volumes, predictive analytics is on the agenda for many organisations and becoming an increasing focus for investment. 77 per cent believe that they have gained a specific competitive advantage through the use of predictive analytics according to the report – SMEs need this competitive advantage in an environment that is increasingly crowded and competitive.

If this innovation can help predict market trends, then what is holding SMEs back?  Getting access to – and making sense of – data has until recently been seen as a complex and highly-skilled task, delivered by people with advanced degrees in statistics and prior analytical experience. Like any business, SMEs need to make a priority of embedding predictive analytics into all areas of an organisation, from point of sale to the call centre. To make this possible, it is critical that companies empower their staff with both the skills and solutions to self-service their analytics needs. Skills gaps are common as new technologies emerge, but it is also important to remember that sophisticated predictive analysis is moving fast from a small population of specialists to a broad spectrum of users and will become ever more valuable across the business as a whole.

Respondents estimate that 28 per cent of their workforce currently uses predictive tools regularly, and that this is set to rise to 42 per cent over the next five years.  By providing education and training on advanced analytics, and marrying this with intuitive predictive technology, SMEs will be able to drive real value and insight across the organisation.

It is clear that businesses need to innovate and up-skill their workforce, but technology also needs to be more intuitive in order to be used at all levels of the business. If businesses are able to realise the potential that predictive analytics offers, and actually make the most of all the data they collect, the future of the business will bring innovation, opportunity and ultimately growth.