Businesses are missing out on revenue and losing customers due to bad data practices, with almost one on five (20%) firms having lost customers because of incomplete or inaccurate information about them, and a further 15% failing to sign new customer contracts for the same reason.
According to Dun & Bradstreet’s "The Past, Present, and Future of Data" report, nearly a quarter (22%) of businesses said their financial forecasts have been inaccurate, while 17% offered too much credit to a customer due to a lack of information about them – and lost money as a result.
The report, which quizzed over 500 business decision makers in the UK and US, also found stark discrepancies between both countries: compliance has been nearly twice as big of a concern in the UK than the US (31% vs. 16%), which may reflect the challenge of meeting the requirements of the GDPR. Already, over 10% of organisations report having been fined for data issues.
The way that data is structured appears to be a significant barrier in many organisations, with indications that data is often poorly structured, difficult to access and out of date. Nearly half of business leaders (46%) say that data is too siloed to make any sense of it, with the biggest challenges to making use of data being protecting data privacy (34%); having accurate data (26%); and analysing/processing that data (24%).
This lack of structure may reflect the fact that 41% of business leaders say that no one in their organisation is responsible for the management of data, the research adds. This absence of ownership may also be why 52% of business leaders said they have not had the budget to implement data management practices within their organisations.
Dun & Bradstreet chief data officer Monica Richter said: "Businesses must make data governance and stewardship a priority. Whether leaders are exploring AI or predictive analytics, clean, defined data is key to the success of any programme and essential for mitigating risk and growing the business."
The study does reveal a growing recognition that responsibility for data should be a priority for the C-suite. However, business leaders are divided as to who in the leadership team owns the data and what that will look like in the future. One thing all business leaders agree on is that the CEO has had, currently has and will have ultimate responsibility for data – more so than even the CTO or CIO.
Meanwhile, two thirds (65%) of respondents say data will be vital to their organisation’s future success. However, under a quarter of organisations (22%) have staff that are dedicated to the management of data and fewer than a quarter say that they have the right talent to implement effective data management.
Dun & Bradstreet chief data scientist Anthony Scriffignano said: "Information has always been critical for businesses, but over the past decade, the volume of data, the types of information available and the ability to do new things with that data have expanded enormously. It’s not surprising that many business leaders feel they are still catching up and their organisations are yet to make the most of data – and some have even been fined or lost customers due to incomplete or ’dirty’ data."