Digital transformation surge fuels quest for quality data

digitisation_1The Covid-19 pandemic might have triggered an acceleration of companies’ digital transformation plans but it has also fired up demand for accurate data insights to inform decision making and strategy.

That is according to the annual Global Data Management report from Experian, which surveyed 700 data practitioners and data-driven business leaders worldwide and found that changing customer behaviour has intensified businesses’ reliance on data.

More than four in five (84%) professionals say they have seen more demand for data insights due to Covid-19, while nearly three-quarters (72%) report that the rapid push to digital transformation is making their businesses more data dependent.

Beyond underscoring its business value, the pandemic has also exposed data’s potential to be used for societal good – and business leaders are keen to explore this further.

Nearly four in five (78%) see the pandemic as a defining moment for organisations to set-up and use data for societal good where they can, while nearly nine in ten (86%) would like to be able to use their data in some way to benefit society.

Increasing collaboration with other organisations to better support those in need, sharing talent and resources to develop and deliver products, or allowing their data practitioners to spend time on voluntary project were all highlighted as a potential approach to achieving this.

However, Experian claims many will struggle to use data for either business or social good unless they can overcome endemic weaknesses in legacy data management practices, with the report outlining key barriers that organisations must address:

Data quality and maturity: On average, organisations believe a third of their data (32%) is inaccurate in some way. In fact, 55% of business leaders lack trust in data assets, and 51% say improving data quality is a ‘significant priority’.

Data skills: Embracing the power of data is being stunted by a skills gap – 62% say a lack of basic data literacy skills affects the value they get from their investment in data and technology, while 55% believe they lack skills/resources to leverage data assets fully.

Agility: Some 62% admit a lack of agility in data processes has hurt their response to changing business needs in the wake of Covid.

The paper also provides insight into businesses’ data priorities, as well as advice on how organisations can meet digital transformation objectives by making improvements.

For instance, with a data literate workforce, a business is armed with talent that can make timely, data-driven decisions. Reassuringly the report reveals that 85% of organisations are hiring data roles in the next six months.

Technology also has a critical role to play when it comes to modernising data management practices. Some 85% of business leaders say sourcing more technology for staff is a priority.

Finally, the report recommends that before new initiatives complicate the issue, companies should go back to the basics of people, processes, and tools. To build resilience against future risk, firms should invest in the right areas to recognise return on investment on data management more quickly.

Experian global managing director of data quality Andrew Abraham commented: “The pandemic has been a catalyst for long-awaited digital transformation. Businesses need to move fast to serve customers’ changing needs, and leaders know that data-based decision-making is key to evolving the right way.

“It’s also heartening to see organisations looking beyond the business applications of data, to how they can use it for societal good. However, if businesses are to succeed in either area, they must overcome fundamental barriers to effective data management.”

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