I can’t seem to resist clicking on those ubiquitous “Buzzwords You Should Stop Using Now” lists. Maybe it’s because they’re always good for a few laughs as well as some much-needed conviction. Unfortunately, I see the term “strategic analytics” – or strategic anything – appearing on these lists all too frequently. But rather than retire the strategic label due to overuse, perhaps we should reevaluate not only what qualifies as strategic, but who. A longstanding business truism is that “everyone owns the customer experience”. And with today’s predictive analytical techniques and tools, it’s time to add that “everyone is strategic”.

Financial services companies provide a great example, as increased competition and regulation have placed their focus squarely on the consumer. Succeeding in this environment requires incorporating and tracking more data sources, analytical processes, models and KPIs than ever before – all of which could be considered strategic. At the same time, many of these firms are rapidly expanding and redefining their product offerings, delivery channels, and partnerships (not to mention their target segments) in order to meet their growth and profitability goals. This immense complexity and the resulting data explosion calls for even greater strategic insights.

Data mining and other advanced techniques have made it possible to explore vast datasets to detect consumer sentiment, predict more accurate outcomes, and deliver clear benefits to the customer and the business. So far, so good. But with new business strategies and regulatory constraints constantly rolling downhill from the executive suite, are analysts too often in reaction mode? As a result, are financial services companies missing out on even deeper analytical insights that could deliver higher profits and competitive advantage? Absolutely!

Problem is, many of these organizations’ smartest people are equipped with standard BI and analytical tools that provide good insights about what has already happened in the business. But what about exploring sophisticated future scenarios involving new data sources, models, economic conditions, or regulatory constraints – and getting answers in minutes rather than weeks? The data and brain power are certainly there, but forward-looking strategic insights can still be tough (and often slow) to come by.

I’ve heard many analytics leaders lament that their team members spend about 80% of their time performing rote tasks like coding and reporting, and less than 20% of their time generating truly strategic insights. What if even a few of these analysts had more flexible, advanced tools that could flip that equation around? Could they then help the business respond more quickly to changing market dynamics? Or proactively discover brand new insights that represent a major growth opportunity, profitable sweet spot, or competitive advantage?

Even though some think that the term “strategic analytics” is overused, I’m not ready to put it out to pasture. It’s time to expand its meaning beyond the executive suite and get more people in on the act. Strategy can roll uphill, too! Every customer and every basis point counts in today’s competitive environment, creating an opportunity that’s ripe for the taking. Isn’t it time you asked yourself what strategic talent and game-changing insights are hiding in your analytics department?