Pandemic pushes data flaws to top of business agenda

dataWith most businesses still experiencing the disruption to their operations and supply chains due to the pandemic, over half (52%) fear for their survival without relevant, up-to-date and compliant business data.

So says Dun & Bradstreet’s ‘The Future of Data’ report, which reveals two-thirds of business leaders acknowledge that data is the most useful tool for their organisation to identify new markets to work with (64%) and is crucial for targeting new customers (62%).

Furthermore, with the pandemic continuing to disrupt supply chains globally, six in ten businesses surveyed are using data to assess risk (65%) and monitor procurement and supply (62%).

But despite the belief that accurate and timely data is crucial to business processes, bosses admit that they are falling short when it comes to their ability to manage data.

They are also concerned about the accuracy of the data that their business stores for planning purposes (47%); that their business won’t have the technology to take full advantage of data (46%); and that their business is moving too slowly to make full use of data (45%).

Even when they do have a data strategy in place, businesses are struggling with effective data management (25%) and combatting fraud (22%). As a result, bosses say over a quarter (27%) of projects fail to meet business requirements on average.

On top of this, the difficulty in finding the right talent to analyse data and apply insights to business decisions is a major concern for over a quarter (27%) of organisations looking to improve their data literacy.

This lack of talent and knowledge is being felt elsewhere in business, with new regulatory requirements being another concern for organisations dependent on customer and supplier data. Half of businesses are worried about maintaining data privacy (50%), while a quarter point to data regulation and legal procedures as a source of risk (25%).

Consequently, the challenges that businesses have encountered in the last year and a half have demonstrated the need for leaders to prioritise data planning and integrate it into the overall business strategy.

Seven in ten believe data quality is critical for making the right decisions (69%) and believe effective data management can offer a competitive advantage (73%). Finally, two-thirds of organisations would value more advice (67%) to support businesses in making the best use of the data they have, indicating an awareness that they lack all the skills needed internally.

Dun & Bradstreet senior vice-president and chief data scientist Anthony Scriffignano commented: “With the enormous growth in available data, businesses don’t need just any information, rather data that’s carefully curated, timely and accurate. In other words, data that’s fit for purpose.

“Companies have needed to change how they make sense of information and form predictions based on that information for some time, but the pandemic has pushed that imperative right up the business agenda. Thinking about whether data is accurate and actually reflects what’s going on – or is in fact obsolete and irrelevant – is key.

“Simply having access to tools that process data won’t mean a business is using them wisely. Talent has to be a key focus for the leadership team. Data skills should be in the business on purpose, not by accident. In addition to recruiting for new talent in the business, it’s vital not to overlook the existing workforce, instituting continuous learning to ensure that skills stay fresh and relevant.

“Leaders are responsible for setting a tone where people are willing to learn, including the senior team themselves – because as we know, data insight is becoming more critical to the CV of the CEO too.”

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