There is a clear link between data use and financial performance, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit survey.
Eighty-four percent of survey respondents who described themselves as financially ahead of their peers report that their companies are also ahead in data use, compared with only 25% of respondents at companies that financially lag their peers.
The report, titled "Fostering a Data-Driven Culture" and sponsored by Tableau Software, refutes the notion that a few experts can transform a company into a data-driven organisation. It requires buy-in throughout the organisation, say executive respondents, along with employee empowerment through training.
When asked what strategies have proved successful in promoting a data-driven culture at their company, 56% of executives who rate their companies “substantially ahead of peers” cite promotion of data-sharing practices.
And 50% of respondents at high-performing companies say it is very important to have training programmes/partnerships in place to increase the data-literacy of their employees.
Perhaps most importantly, top-down mandates and guidance are critical. Forty-nine percent of respondents—69%from high-performing companies—attest to the importance of C-level leadership on data issues.
The research also finds that companies can power change by democratising data use. Yet data specialists remain an essential part of many workforces, as some analytical tasks require a sophisticated knowledge of statistics.
Nearly 70% of respondents say that it is difficult to recruit and retain people who are effective at analysing data.
Underperforming companies rate the problem as more severe, as do companies in Asia-Pacific. The causes of this problem are diverse, but respondents single out a lack of professional expertise among applicants (43%), a shortage of analysts in their sector (35%) and the high salary costs demanded by data specialists (34%) as some of the principal reasons.
Meanwhile, 76 percent of respondents from high-performing companies cite data collection as “very important/essential” to data culture compared with 42% from companies that lag their peers.