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Companies express their stance and satisfaction on data analytics in MENA

According to the survey, 42 percent of respondents stated that their companies did not have a business intelligence tool

By: Business Today Egypt

Tue, Jun. 8, 2021

The age of Big Data is here to stay and regional companies have invested millions into building their capabilities in data collection and analytics, but are they satisfied with their progress so far?

A recent Incorta, a US data analytics company, infographic aimed to shed light on the current status, and future, of data analytics in Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Business Today Egypt spoke with Sherif Maklouf, CEO of Boost Advertising, Incorta's consultants in designing and implementing the survey.


Behind Collecting Data in Egypt and the GCC

All aspects of business is being digitalized, Maklouf noted, from employee management and daily operations to delivery, warehousing and financing, allowing for large scale data collection.

Despite this, 30 percent of respondents noted that their businesses don’t have a basic data analytics infrastructure in place, with 25 percent rating their status as below 2 out of 5.

Courtesy Incorta


“[Data] is an asset that businesses can and should invest in to be able to extract [as much as possible] from this asset; in terms of understanding more about their current situation, costs, profit potential, their consumers and what they are using and looking for, their employees, productivity and retention rate,” said Maklouf.

He highlighted the importance of data collection, stating “So many things that can be driven, in terms of the business itself, if data is utilized fully for all these enterprises”.

According to the survey, 42 percent of respondents stated that their companies did not have a business intelligence tool.

Business intelligence combines business analytics, data mining, data visualization, data tools and infrastructure, and best practices to help organizations to make more data-driven decisions.

Businesses (30 percent) also expressed their dissatisfaction with the way their data analytics tools integrated with their systems.


Investing in the future of the region’s data environment

According to Incorta’s survey, 68 percent of data leaders confirmed plans to invest more in data analytics in 2021, with Maklouf adding that about 80 percent of the enterprises surveyed expressed their clear intention for more investment in data analytics and business intelligence over the next year.

“About 2 thirds of [those surveyed] said that their chief motivation was to improve their decision making as an enterprise, becoming more data driven and understanding that these decisions are based on actual facts and information at hand and not just gut feeling,” Maklouf explained.

Courtesy Incorta


The other was to improve employee productivity and morale, to data for reducing costs or optimizing operations as much as possible, he added.


Current challenges in using data for data-driven decisions and solutions

“The survey results also outline, clearly, that the most pressing issue and challenge that most data professionals and business leaders are facing in terms of implementing data projects and getting that value out of data is data integration… is [the] ability to collect data and organize it in a way from multiple sources where all the data is available to be crunched and to get that visualization and answers to their questions,” said Maklouf.

A majority of those surveyed noted that they are only able to use between 40 to 80 percent of their data, with only 6 percent stating they are utilizing above 80 percent.

It also notes 50 percent of data leaders reported smoot integration as a challenge, as well as IT budget constraints and lack of technical expertise within the organization.

“Another major challenge is the ability to answer adhoc questions,” says Maklouf, explaining it as the ability to answer new questions during a data projects as situations and businesses change and evolve according to the environment around it.

“Most businesses have expressed [that] the technical expertise within the organization itself to implement major data projects [is a challenge]” he added.

Making data results friendlier for business users was also an important challenge to overcome, with 47 percent of respondents stated that data solutions are not business user friendly enough, with business users having to rely on technical teams for answers.

Courtesy Incorta


“Sometimes some of the data solutions are too technical…. [mainly] used by CTOs, their team and business analysts, but what about an operations manager, what about head of marketing and sales?” asks Maklouf.

“These users have challenges in terms of adopting these solutions and really being able, on a daily basis, [to log in], looking at the graphs, looking at the graphs, looking at the curves, looking at the answers and understanding these and accordingly making decisions within their businesses.”


Overcoming data-driven and related challenges

“The GCC and Egypt have a long way to go, stated Maklouf, adding that the survey highlighted this with more than half of respondents saying that they are unsatisfied with the current state of their data analytics infrastructure “let alone their data analytics capabilities”.

Emphasizing on the importance of making data more business user friendly, he pointed out that business leaders driving businesses are not proficient and exposed enough to the power of data and data analytics, making it a “black box” to explore.

Companies will invest “slowly but surely,” with multinationals driving the trend in the region and local enterprises following suit for the purpose of competition, he added.

“Similar to the trends we’ve seen in the digital transformations in banking, where we have seen international banks starting online platforms and mobile apps…and now lots of the local banks have outdone them in digitalizing the businesses themselves.”

“In terms of the future of data analytics… [There will be] a huge leap within the Egyptian business community,” says Maklouf.

The three major trends that companies predict in regards to data analytics in the region are the automation of the query and analysis process, easier self-service in terms of receiving data results and information, and machine learning.

When explaining self-service, Maklouf explained it as making it “a lot simpler for the business user to be able to go in and get the information they need versus going back to a data specialist and asking them for their information”.

A component of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning will enable AI to identify and relay red flags and potential opportunities to decision makers with insights that empower data-driven decision making.