Data-driven firms ‘far more resilient to Covid meltdown’

data_again1Further proof that data-driven businesses are not only handling the coronavirus fall-out better but face a much brighter future once the pandemic has eased has been revealed in a new study, which shows vast majority (80%) of bosses of data-savvy firms reckon they have had a critical advantage during the crisis.

The study, commissioned by Tableau and carried out by YouGov, quizzed more than 3,500 senior managers and technology decision makers across the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands, and has identified a chasm between firms that are using data to inform decisions throughout the pandemic, and those that are not.

Not only do they believe they have been able to fight off the worst excesses of Covid-19, bosses of data-driven firms are also more committed to the role data plays in the future of their business, with more than three-quarters (76%) planning to increase investment in data skills as they look towards 2021. What is more, nearly four-fifths (79%) are confident they will ensure business decisions are supported by data.

On the other side of the coin, the findings show non data-driven companies are slower to grasp the importance of data as they navigate these uncertain times, with only 29% seeing it as a critical advantage and 56% saying they will reduce or stop investment in data skills. Additionally, only 36% are confident they will ensure business decisions are supported by data.

When asked how being data-driven during the pandemic helped, business leaders acknowledged multiple benefits, including more effective communications to employees and customers (42%), the ability to make strategic business decisions faster (40%) and increased collaboration across teams for decision making and problem solving (36%).

Henkel, one of the world’s leading consumer goods companies behind Persil, Schwarzkopf and Loctite, started building data skills across in business in 2013.

Dr Dirk Holbach is the company’s corporate senior vice-president and chief supply chain officer of laundry and home care. He said: “The pandemic has definitely seen us benefit from these capabilities. For example, we were able to record the entire control of our personal protective equipment within a few days, so that every plant can see how we are equipped in this regard – allowing our business to continue operating. I am convinced that we will take some good lessons with us into the future, especially when it comes to collaboration.”

Across all survey respondents, top lessons learned from the pandemic include the need to be more agile (30%), to effectively prioritise and deliver on projects faster (26%), and the need for access to more accurate, timely and clean data (25%).

Jay Kotecha, a data scientist at complete food brand Huel, said: “Our data-driven strategy is helping the business respond to consumer behaviour – enabling us to pivot and react with greater speed and clarity. It’s all about empowering the full organisation through data. Employees are exploring data from across the whole organisation and turning it into insight we can act upon, whether that’s revenue forecasts, distribution effectiveness, or marketing spend.”

Looking across Europe, the findings show that just over half (56%) of business leaders consider their companies to be data-driven, while one in three (38%) believe their businesses are not. These results point to a clear opportunity for companies to harness data to support business resilience and decision making during this time.

German companies take the lead, with 62% saying their business is data-driven, while surprisingly the UK lags way behind, with only 46% in agreement.

Tableau vice-president of strategy and growth for the EMEA region Tony Hammond commented: “This year has been an accelerant of change for businesses, ushering in an all-digital world faster than anyone could have ever imagined, and data is at the heart of this digital world.

“In this age of data, our research shows that data-driven companies are seeing clear advantages and are more confident in the future of their business. As a result, they are really leaning into the power of their data. Companies that have not yet woken up to this are at risk of falling behind. But all companies, large or small, can be reassured that it’s not too late to harness the power of data – the time is now.”

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