2 in 5 data-driven initiatives are failing in the retail industry, with 43 per cent of failures due to a skills shortage

New research by Exasol, the analytic database provider, has found that almost half of data-driven initiatives are failing in retail organisations. 

One of the most common reasons for data-driven initiatives failing was lack of employee skills, which affects 43 per cent of retail businesses. The research found a marked difference from sector to sector, with retailers struggling most due to the skills shortage. Financial services organisations were found to also be greatly afflicted by a lack of employee skills, with 40 per cent stating the skills shortage was to blame for failed data strategies, while only 7 per cent of construction and property businesses are affected by the same issue.


Source: Research by Vanson Bourne, commissioned by Exasol, of 500 IT and business decision makers, from enterprises in Germany and the UK.

The most common data-driven initiatives to fail for retail businesses are data migration (26 per cent), data consolidation (24 per cent), e-discovery (12 per cent) and GDPR (10 per cent). Other data-driven projects cited as having failed in retail organisations were machine learning and IoT projects.

The reasons cited for the failure of data initiatives in the retail industry included:

  • lack of employee skills (43 per cent)
  • data security issues (29 per cent)
  • poor data quality (29 per cent)
  • not delivering the time and cost savings expected (21 per cent)
  • siloed data (19 per cent)
  • lack of employee buy-in (14 per cent)
  • cannot collect data in real time (10 per cent)

Sam Sibley, Strategic Partners & Alliances Manager at Exasol, commented: "Businesses want data to work for them, and this is very much behind the rise of data-driven initiatives such as machine learning, where the algorithm takes control. Investment in this area is rising fast, a recent Deloitte survey highlights that 57 per cent of businesses are increasing spending in the technology. In general, this technology is no longer seen as a cost, but an opportunity and a revenue driver. However, there is still work to be done to ensure data-driven initiatives succeed and are understood at all levels of the business.”

"The most successful businesses will be those that invest in their technology and hire the skills to make those investments work", added Sibley.

Exasol’s research was conducted by survey house Vanson Bourne on 500 IT and business decision makers, from enterprises in Germany and the UK.

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