The vast majority (74%) of companies have finally woken up to the potential value of their data yet most (80%) still pass the buck, insisting that accountability for data strategy rests with technology leaders.
So says a new report from Coeus Consulting - Beyond Technology: How can Organisations drive Sustainable Value from Their Data Investments - which reveals only a quarter of organisations have a chief data officer.
Coeus associate director Richard Graham said: "Many investments in data and analytics have been started from a technology perspective with little alignment to business value or desired outcomes that can be measured against a business strategy. Businesses need a change of mind-set and approach right across the organisation, and the challenge is more than simply collecting data and making it available.”
However, the survey did find two-thirds (66%) of respondents are actively trialling the use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing and automation capabilities. Even so, only just over a third (39%) admit to widely using data lakes and warehousing, suggesting that organisations have either not completed these activities or are not placing enough importance on them, the report states.
It also shows that being data-driven is an imperative for most organisations and there is a growing trend to incubate and deploy advanced analytics, but organisations need to ensure they have certain fundamental capabilities in place before trying to achieve digital transformation.
There seems to be a motivation to be “AI first”, perhaps driven by the perception that most organisations are already ahead in using these capabilities, rather than getting to grips with untapped value in existing data, and how best to make use of it, Graham noted.
The survey highlights that there are many obstacles to overcome before companies can begin to see meaningful benefits from the data available through technology-led investments such as AI.
Of the top five enterprise data bugbears, the majority are business-related: the scale and complexity of data-sets (27%); governance and ownership (24%); the lack of a data operating model (19%); regulatory compliance issues (19%); and difficulty in integrating new technologies.
Organisations are facing tougher regulatory environments and when asked to express their concerns about data regulations, compliance with ethical and moral requirements was the biggest, cited by 49% of respondents. This has obvious implications for data management, analysis, and technology buying decisions, and the potential reputational and financial repercussions.
Some 16% of respondents also stated that a lack of expertise and skills is a major obstacle. While companies are investing in foundational skills, moving skills in-house and introducing new roles, third parties and external contractors play a key role in enabling and supplementing these organisations, and will continue to do so.
When asked where organisations are seeing the biggest benefits from their data initiatives, 43% of respondents said they are in “improved customer insights”, while 41% identified an improved ability to take proactive, predictive decisions.
“Improved reporting” also scored highly, along with better management of risk and regulatory compliance (37%). However, only 24% cited an increased ability to meet customer needs, with 20% citing a greater ability to spot future business opportunities.
In contrast, just 12% identified attracting new customers as a core motivation – the least favoured option on the list, this is despite the realisation that improved customer insight could be the biggest benefit.
Graham said: "This is surprising given it’s so important in markets that are becoming hyper-competitive. Nearly every type of business is being disrupted by new players and a lack of customer loyalty, especially on new digital channels. Investing in customer insights and new product development ought to be a high strategic priority alongside consolidating market position.
"Being able to seamlessly integrate data and analytics into standard business and IT operations should be the goal of all organisations, to unlock value in your data and information. Businesses need to create an aligned data and business strategy that positions data as a strategic asset and prioritises resources to integrate data management and analytics effectively.”