Jan Schilpp on the Key to Leverage Data Analytics Potential

The winner of the Kamax Master Study Award 2021 for the best Master Thesis on Analytics and currently doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences, talks about the importance of data analytics as an important driver of organizational performance and gives an outlook on highly relevant implications for practitioners.

What are the main conclusions of your winning master thesis?

In my master thesis „The Key to Leverage Data Analytics’ Potential? Empirically Exploring Governance of Data Analytics” (Chair of Enterprise Systems, Prof. Hoehle), I investigated the importance of governance to leverage data analytics’ potential. The motivation was to scrutinize why enterprises heavily invest resources to implement data analytics but often obtain only a limited payoff. For instance, in a recent study only 27 per cent of senior managers state that data analytics has had the expected influence.

It is found that governance, which describes the way decisions along the whole data analytics value chain are made, is one important enabler for firms to fully profit from data analytics. On the one hand, firms need clear roles, responsibilities, and processes for data analytics that allow to efficiently produce high quality insights from data. On the other hand, enterprises should promote informal communication between different stakeholders of data analytics, e.g., data analysts and managers, because this allows the latter to quickly coordinate and obtain value from data analytics under new or unexpected circumstances.

Nonetheless, it is equally important that firms offer analytical upskilling for their employees and implement an analytical culture. While the former allows more employees to conduct data analytics, the latter increases people’s willingness to analyze data and ground their decisions on analytics insights.

How would you assess the importance of your research for practitioners?

The study clearly reveals that, to fully profit from data analytics, firms should not only focus on recruiting data analysts and building the necessary hard- and software capabilities for data analytics, but efforts from the whole firm are necessary. Enterprises need to get all of their staff on board, for example by offering data analytics training for their employees. Additionally, it is important to frequently highlight data analytics’ value to staff across all hierarchical levels. This can be done through prominent firm-wide analytics workshops or events. Finally, firms need to enable the organization to leverage data analytics, i.e., by introducing central roles like the data owner as well as communication channels between the relevant stakeholders.

All in all, the study’s findings shed light on the steps, enterprises can undertake to benefit from data analytics. These are to train their employees in data analytics, establish an analytics culture, and build a governance that balances pre-defined roles and responsibilities with the freedom to quickly react to new circumstances.

So, what are you plans for the future and what role does data analytics play there?

I just started my doctorate at the Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences here at the University of Mannheim. As I am passionate about data analytics and experience it as an important topic for practitioners, as this price shows, I want to dig deeper into the topic. For example, I plan to analyze how data analytics changes managerial decision-making. This is highly important for practitioners because it might reveal what type of manager profits most from analytics insights.

With the Management Analytics Center as well as the overall relevance of data-driven research at the University of Mannheim, Business School in general and the Chair of Enterprise Systems of Professor Höhle in particular, this is really the best environment to conduct my research.

About the KAMAX Master Study Award:

The KAMAX Master Study Award is granted once a year to the best master's thesis on the topic of analytics at the University of Mannheim, Business School. This award recognizes outstanding achievements by young academics that have a high practical value by helping organizations to work in a more data-driven way. The Management Analytics Center Award is funded by KAMAX Holding GmbH & Co. KG and is endowed with EUR 500.