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As data expand at a mind-boggling rate, companies are rushing to tap the data surge and use new insights to grab an edge in a fast-paced and competitive global business environment.
Speed is of the essence. Executives who consider their company competitive in its ability to use data are also more likely to report the ability to access and leverage data quickly, according to The power of fast data, an Economist Intelligence Unit report, sponsored by SAP’s Services organisation. The research paper draws on two global surveys, one of 400 executives in September 2013 and another of 353 executives in April 2012, as well as in-depth interviews with experts and executives.
Responses to the two surveys are similar in many respects. However, the 2013 survey reveals eroded confidence in companies’ data-use abilities, which we attribute to growing pains and a clearer-eyed view of the challenges as executives delve deeper into the hard work of implementation. Only 40% of respondents to the 2013 survey consider their company’s ability to leverage data ‘industry leading’ or ‘competitive’, down from 50% in 2012, while slightly more call it ‘inadequate’ or ‘completely inadequate’. Fewer believe their company has processes in place to access data in a timely fashion (54%, down from 66% in 2012).
The more recent survey also shows that implementation concerns are shifting. While budget limitations remain the top challenge to timely analysis, fewer executives cite cost or budget as a primary obstacle (36%, down from 50%); more cite a lack of available or trained personnel (30%, up from 20%). Other key findings include:
Why read this report
The data-savvy achieve speed and organisational depth. Respondents who say their companies are ‘industry-leading’ or ‘competitive’ in their ability to leverage data (40%, down from 50%) are more likely have quick access to data and provide it to all departments.
But many companies struggle. Although the majority of respondents say their companies give all departments timely access to information (63% in 2013), less than half (48%) provide that access to all job functions and all international locations (45%) equally.
Companies are benefiting from timely data analysis, but organisational and cultural obstacles persist. Nearly half (44% in 2013 vs 48% in 2012) of respondents cite faster and better decisions as a key benefit of timely data analysis. A lack of trained talent is a key obstacle (cited by 30%, up from 20% in 2012), and about a quarter of respondents (28% vs 26%) say their company’s culture does not yet support a data-driven enterprise.