Study: Data Intelligence Challenges Business Leaders

A lack of buy-in from leaders was found to be a hurdle to organizations in their abilities to take full advantage of data intelligence.

Is your organization making the most of the data it is collecting?

A global study [PDF] from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Iron Mountain found that while 75 percent of business leaders in North America and Europe believe they are fully taking advantage of data, only about 4 percent of them are actually doing so in a successful manner.

The survey of 1,800 business leaders found that 43 percent of respondents are getting “little tangible benefit” from data, and 23 percent are getting no benefit.

Why are so many organizations not reaping the full value of their data?

Often, a lack of understanding and support from leadership, wrote Richard Petley, PwC’s director of risk and assurance. “Organizationally, data is all too often seen as a technology backwater—the domain of data architects within IT functions. Our survey supports these jaundiced views as we often encountered organizations where data was not on the agenda of the board. If anything is to change, it needs their leadership to drive it.”

To help change this organizational mindset, study authors suggested setting up a governance structure to serve as an oversight body for data intelligence. They also stressed the importance of getting support from senior leadership.

The importance of buy-in from key decision makers was echoed in another recent study from the U.K.-based Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), which surveyed 1,100 accountants from 50 countries to determine the effectiveness of their financial performance data reporting.

It found, for example, that 40 percent of respondents believe business decisions are based on “gut instinct” rather than data-based intelligence. More than half also reported that they are perceived as either “gatekeepers” of data or providers of basic financial analysis rather than as business partners.

“If management [does] not trust the data on which performance insight is based, or would rather use their own instinct, it becomes even harder for the rest of the business to see it as an essential part of the decision making process,” Jamie Lyon, head of corporate sector at ACCA, said in a statement.

One way to incorporate data analysis into the decision-making process is to look at how it can help solve questions that arise when carrying out an organization’s strategic plan, Debbie King, COO of DSK Solutions, Inc., told Associations Now. “Identify the data which can answer those questions and start ‘data discovery.’”

King added that she doesn’t see that happening within associations as much as it should. “Associations, even the smallest, spend a lot of money on their CRMs, their AMS, their event-registration system—all these things that collect data—and they hardly spend anything at all on analyzing what it means. The whole point of capturing the data is to serve the customers and advance the mission.”

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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