Much attention is currently being paid in both the academic and practitioner literatures to the value that organisations could create through the use of big data and business analytics (Gillon et al, 2012; Mithas et al, 2013). For instance, Chen et al (2012, p. 1166–1168) suggest that business analytics and related technologies can help organisations to ‘better understand its business and markets’ and ‘leverage opportunities presented by abundant data and domain-specific analytics’. Similarly, LaValle et al (2011, p. 22) report that top-performing organisations ‘make decisions based on rigorous analysis at more than double the rate of lower performing organisations’ and that in such organisations analytic insight is being used to ‘guide both future strategies and day-to-day operations’.
We argue here that while there is some evidence that investments in business analytics can create value, the thesis that ‘business analytics leads to value’ needs deeper analysis. In particular, we argue here that the roles of organisational decision-making processes, including resource allocation processes and resource orchestration processes (Helfat et al, 2007; Teece, 2009), need to be better understood in order to understand how organisations can create value from the use of business analytics. Specifically, we propose that the first-order effects of business analytics are likely to be on decision-making processes and that improvements in organisational performance are likely to be an outcome of superior decision-making processes enabled by business analytics.
This paper is set out as follows. Below, we identify prior research traditions in the Information Systems (IS) literature that discuss the potential of data and analytics to create value. This is to put into perspective the current excitement around ‘analytics’ and ‘big data’, and to position those topics within prior research traditions. We then draw on a number of existing literatures to develop a research agenda to understand the relationship between business analytics, decision-making processes and organisational performance. Finally, we discuss how the three papers in this Special Issue advance the research agenda.