'Data Wasters' Underperform Financially, Says Report

A new study finds that the C-suite is increasingly responsible for developing strategies for collecting and analysing data.


The Economist Intelligence Unit's "Big Data: Harnessing a Game-Changing Asset" report finds that part of what makes big data so compelling to companies large and small is the competitive gap between those that manage data effectively and those that do not.


"Not long ago, data management strategy was handled by mid-level IT employees, versed in relational database management systems and query languages," says the report. "But today, the strategic elements of data management are more likely to be handled by the corner office than the back office."


Forty-four percent of survey respondents say that either the CEO or another senior business executive is responsible for their company’s data management strategy. Another 42% say data duties are the purview of the CIO’s office or another senior IT executive. Only 7% of respondents say they leave these to mid-level IT managers.


Companies have collected data for decades, but many still struggle with the most basic aspects of data management, such as cleaning, verifying or reconciling data across the organisation.


Nearly one-third of respondents admit their data governance practices are insufficient.


Many struggle to deliver important data to the right people within an acceptable timeframe. And there is also a dearth of workforce skills to sift through, analyse and develop insights from big data: Thirty percent of respondents say their organisation lacks the skills to manage data effectively.


According to report, companies fall into four loosely defined categories of big data management:


* Data wasters. These companies underperform financially, and their business and IT functions are not aligned. They collect data, but severely underuse them. Found in every industry, these companies are most likely to put a mid-level manager in charge of their data strategy.


* Data collectors. These companies are submerged in data. They recognise the importance of data, but lack the resources to do anything about them, beyond storing them. They suffer from poor IT/business alignment, with nearly one-quarter maintaining that IT does not understand the importance of data; another quarter says the same of the business side. Companies in the healthcare and professional services industries are likely to be found in this category

* Aspiring data managers. These companies have fully embraced the importance of big data to the future of their company. They allow data to inform strategic decisions, and invest in them aggressively. But they still lag behind the leaders. Sixty-six percent of them put only about one-half of their data to good use. Companies in the communications and retail industries are most likely to be found in this category.


* Strategic data managers. This is the most advanced group of big data managers, with the most mature capabilities. Fifty-three percent of these strategic data managers say they outperformed their peers in the last fiscal year, 44% say they are on even par and only 1% say they underperformed. They are most likely to be found among manufacturing, financial services or technology companies. Strategic data managers first identify specific measurements and data points that align closely with corporate strategic goals.





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