A McKinsey survey reveals how—and how much—customer analytics can improve profits and growth.Corporations across the world and industry sectors are increasingly approaching their businesses from a customer-centric perspective, amassing vast quantities of customer intelligence in the process. But harnessing this data deluge is a huge challenge.Even after drawing on sophisticated software systems to portion Big Data into viable segments, countless companies are finding their expectations dashed. Big Data often fails to deliver the big insights hoped for because companies don’t tackle the topic optimally.

To do this, it would be of huge benefit to identify and prove a correlation between the use of customer analytics and corporate performance—and to know what the best companies are doing to turn their analytics into growth.

Our 2013 “DataMatics” survey, based on interviews with 400 top managers of large international companies from a wide variety of industries, provides just these insights.

Extensive and best-practice users of customer analytics outperform their competitors

Use of customer analytics appears to have an immense impact on corporate performance (Exhibit 1). The likelihood of generating above-average profits and marketing earnings is around twice as high for those that apply customer analytics broadly and intensively, i.e., the champions, as for those who aren’t strong in customer analytics, the laggards.  The effect on sales is even greater: 50 percent of the customer-analytics champions are likely to have sales well above their competitors’, versus only 22 percent of the laggards.

Read all: Five facts: How customer analytics boosts corporate performance | McKinsey & Company

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