Despite data’s Importance, more than a third of business leaders don’t use it for critical decisions

Talend has released the results of a survey1 that highlighted the challenges businesses face in becoming data-driven organisations and the solutions to these challenges. It’s clear that business leaders know how important data is — two-thirds report that they use data every day. Yet 78% of these leaders say they face challenges in using their data, and more than a third say they simply aren’t using it to make decisions.

The research revealed that in the retail sector:

  • Fewer execs report working with data every day (49% vs 64% for the whole panel).
  • A smaller proportion of retailers' decisions is based on data today. The majority of execs in retail (61%) make less than half of their decisions based on data. 
  • Even when asked about their ideal state, the retail industry seems to “lag behind”, with just a small majority of retail execs willing to make the majority of their decisions on data (53% vs 73% for the whole panel).
  • Given the vast amount of information to be collected about customer interactions, this lag can’t be attributed to a lack of data.
  • The lack of documented standards for data quality in the retail industry is staggering: 48% of retail execs say that there are no documented standards to assess data quality, and an additional 27% do not know if such standards exist in their company.
  • Just under half (49%) of retail execs strongly agree that they understand how the data they use to make decisions is gathered and prepared.
  • As a result, 39% of retail execs do not know if the budget spent on data management is worth it. 

There’s a difference between data-saturated and data-driven. Companies have more access to data than ever before, but there’s very little way to make sense of it. Only half of the executives highly rate their ability to deliver the basics: timely, accessible, complete, and accurate data. Data management companies have been offering to solve these problems for years — but they’re focused on the mechanics of data like moving it and storing it.

“Our relationship with data is unhealthy. Only 40% of executives always trust the data they work with, and more than a third of executives are still making decisions based on gut instincts,” said Christal Bemont, CEO, Talend. “The reality of data is falling well short of the industry’s vision. Data management, which largely focuses on moving and storing data, doesn’t take into account the overall health of data. Therefore, in trying to manage data, companies are in fact creating digital landfills of corporate information. This has to change. Our vision of data health is the future because it recognises fundamental standards for quality and reliability are critical for corporate survival.”

Data health is Talend’s vision for a holistic system of preventative measures, effective treatments, and a supportive culture to actively manage the well-being of corporate information. It is designed to allow companies to answer basic questions about their data that remain challenging for many to address — where it resides, who has access to it, whether it’s accurate, and how much it’s worth. Data health would help organizations understand and communicate — in a quantifiable way — the reliability, risk, and return of this extremely critical business asset. 

Customers report that a focus on data health is having a positive aspect on their business. “Without access to quality data on time, we could have never achieved the scale of analytics we are currently in,” said Ranadip Dutta, solution architect manager, Lenovo. “We now have flexibility along with scalability.”

Read the full survey report to discover the differences in how people who produce and deliver data feel about working with data, versus those who consume it. You’ll also learn more about industry data trends and whether functional groups in every organisation are working with data effectively.

¹From 24 March to 8 April  2021, Talend led a survey via Qualtrics of 529 global executives — with titles ranging from director to the C-suite — from medium and large companies making more than $10 million in annual revenue to assess their ability to make data-driven decisions.

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