Companies need to get smarter if they want to succeed

May 7, 2005
Nine out of 10 executives from the largest U.S. companies say they need stronger business intelligence capabilities that provide better analysis of

Nine out of 10 executives from the largest U.S. companies say they need stronger business intelligence capabilities that provide better analysis of, and insight into their operations if they are to grow successfully in an uncertain economic and political environment, according to a survey from Accenture.

The purpose of the survey, drawn from interviews with 150 senior executives at Fortune 1000 companies, was to identify and assess industry's preparedness to handle the major challenges that U.S. companies see as their greatest impediments to growth.

Uncertainty and change dominate the list of impediments to the organizations' ability to grow. When asked to select the biggest growth impediment for their organizations, more than half (54%) of respondents name either "uncertainty in the financial markets and in the economy overall" or "political and regulatory uncertainty in key countries/markets." Other key impediments are changes in the customer base (17%), changes in the skills/capabilities of the talent pool (16%), and constant technological innovation and introduction of disruptive technologies (13%).

"From an overall perspective, these results indicate that rather than facing a single, large pressing issue, executives must confront a potentially bigger obstacle: a situation in which uncertainty permeates all areas of the business," says Tim Breene, Accenture's chief strategy officer and group chief executive, business consulting.

However, while the respondents differ on the specific areas that would impede their organizations' growth, there is much greater consensus on the capabilities that will enable them to address their biggest challenge. Specifically, 91% name stronger analytical and business intelligence capabilities as an area that will help them be better prepared to address their biggest challenge. This is followed by an organizational culture that better accommodates change (84%) and a more robust information technology infrastructure (74%).

"Our research indicates that organizations that are flexible and can adapt to uncertainty and change are better able to sustain high performance in the long-term, and doing so requires a robust data gathering and business intelligence capability," says Breene. "Those companies best prepared to manage in this environment will invest in developing capabilities that help them harness information to improve decision making, financial management and customer service."

Wirthlin Worldwide, on behalf of Accenture, surveyed 150 executives at Fortune 1000 companies by telephone in late 2004. Respondent companies represent the services (45%), manufacturing (37%) and high-tech (17%) industries.

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