UK businesses are the most frequent users of data analytics for marketing, sales and customer service, according to a global survey by Accenture.

Accenture questioned 800 directors and senior managers at blue chip companies in eight countries, including the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and the US, and found that on average 64 percent of firms in the UK use analytics compared to just 46 percent in the US.

“The UK comes across as probably the most mature in its use of analytics, and the lowest performer was North America,” said Natalie Kouzeleas, senior executive of customer and retention analytics for Europe, Africa and Latin America at Accenture.

“You could put that down to the marketing industry in the UK [being more mature] and you have more of a data privacy history in the UK. With US privacy laws, you don’t have to be quite as stringent about whom you are mailing.”

The UK was above the average for all the countries, which was around 55 percent, and out of the UK firms that said they used analytics, most used them for marketing (72 percent), followed by sales (64 percent and then customer service (56 percent).

Kouzeleas said that a reduction in marketing budgets, particularly due to the recession in the last few years, may also have had an influence on the use of analytics.

“With limited marketing resources you need to be more focused and to use your analytics to drive your response rate. Across the board, we are seeing a focus on using analytics to be smarter in decision-making,” she said.

However, Kouzeleas said that despite the UK’s more mature use of analytics, firms could still do more.

The survey found that more senior managers in the UK still considered personal experience (33 percent) to be very important about making decisions about what customers want, compared to 23 percent who said simple data and facts, and 14 percent who said more complex data analysis.

“In general the UK was better than most organisations in every category, but there is still a long way to go. We are working with a lot of customers looking to drive even more detail down to the micro-segment level,” said Kouzeleas.

“The next stage is to bring all the [customer] data together, and having a control function for analytics [in the business] and driving analytics in every part of the business,” she added.