The majority of firms in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector are failing to make the most of the opportunities afforded to them by big data analytics, which means they could be missing out on potential revenue.

This is according to a new study from Accenture, which found that while over half of organizations (54 percent) said they have a fully-defined analytics operating model, just nine percent confirmed they have implemented this in its entirety across the company. Another 15 percent stated they have only partially executed their plan across the geographies in which they operate.

Accenture said its results highlight a “worrying mismatch” between the perceptions executives have of their data analytics capabilities and the reality. In particular, many organizations may still be taking a reactive approach to their business intelligence, with just a third admitting their specialists are focused on the management of big data and only nine percent stating they have made the implementation of predictive analytics a priority.

Bob Berkey, managing director in Accenture’s Consumer Goods and Services practice, said: “The research indicates that the analytics functions of many CPG companies are producing hindsight descriptions of what has happened, rather than delivering forward-looking insights that can be used to make well informed operational, managerial and strategic decisions.”

He added it will be imperative for companies in this sector to place more of a focus on putting analytics-driven insights at the heart of their decision-making. This will be essential if firms are to take full advantage of their investments in this technology and see results such as increased efficiency, flexibility, speed and profitability.

Accenture’s study also revealed that many businesses are placing a closer focus on putting technology in place to assist with their big data analytics solutions, as opposed to ensuring they have the right talent in place to use this effectively.

Analytics technology was named by 37 percent of respondents as their top priority, with a further 31 percent placing analytics governance at the top of their agenda. However, only eight percent of executives rated talent as their top priority – with 55 percent of firms putting this bottom of their list of issues.

However, despite this, 73 percent of respondents said they are actively hiring analytics specialists, even though they are still defining what their needs will be. The skill sets in greatest demand were found to be data modelling (53 percent) and data mining (44 percent).

Managing director at Accenture Analytics North America Julio Hernandez highlighted four key areas that all CPG firms should be focusing on – better understanding of consumers, cutting costs and increasing service levels in the supply chain, enhancing relationships with retailers, and hiring and deploying the right talent.

“In each area, big data analytics techniques and underlying technologies can provide a competitive edge by offering actionable insights from multiple sources of data, including business, third-party and contextual information, often in real time,” he continued,.

Mr Hernandez added the companies that will see the greatest benefits will be those that are able to speed up and automate their analytics processes and “systematically infuse data-based insights into their operations”.

Commenting on the story, Dr. Sharon Kirkham, Data Scientist and Director of the Kognitio Analytics Center of Excellence said with this “unprecedented degree of business change” comes complexity. Not only in the increased use of mathematical algorithms, such asthose coded in the R programming language, but also in deployment. Businesses now require predictive analytics to be accessible, or at the very least digestible, by a wider business audience than ever before.  The  analytical platform your organization employs must not only underpin your standard business intelligence applications but also offer interfaces to harness the power of predictive analytical tools and programs such as R and Python.

Recently, the Kognitio Team commissioned a survey of retailers and CPG companies in the US, which found that a majority of the business users surveyed believe that access to advanced and predictive analytics is very important to the profitability of their business.  The survey is available for review at www.kognitio.com/survey or by contacting the Kognitio team via the “chat live” function on the website.