Pandemic ‘pushing organisations towards a more data-driven approach’

Digital skills gap widens: 71% of workers say pandemic ‘made data skills more important’

84% of businesses have seen more demand for data due to Covid-19, but nearly a third say data quality remains a fundamental barrier, according to a new study.

New research from Experian reveals how the acceleration of digital transformation, through the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to greater demand for data insights to inform decision making and strategy, according to new research.

The annual Global Data Management report, which surveyed 700 data practitioners and data-driven business leaders globally, found that changing customer behaviour has intensified businesses’ need for high-quality data. Eighty-four percent have seen more demand for data insights in their organisations due to Covid-19. In fact, 72% say that the rapid push to digital transformation is making their businesses more reliant on data.

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. Seventy-eight percent see COVID-19 as a defining moment for organisations to set-up and use data for societal good where they can, while 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, they will struggle to use data for either business or social good unless they can overcome endemic weaknesses in legacy data management practices. Experian’s report outlines 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. It’s unsurprising then that 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 impacts the value they get from their investment in data and technology, while 55% believe they lack skills/resources to leverage data assets fully.
• Agility: Sixty-two percent admit a lack of agility in data processes has hurt their response to changing business needs in the wake of COVID-19.

Andrew Abraham, Global Managing Director, Data Quality, at Experian, comments on the findings: “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.”

The paper also provides insight into businesses’ data priorities, as well as expert advice on how organisations can meet digital transformation objectives by making improvements in the following areas:

People: 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: Technology has a critical role to play when it comes to modernising data management practices. Eighty-five percent of business leaders say sourcing more technology for staff is a priority.
New ways of working: DataOps: DataOps aims to shorten development cycles, increase deployment frequency, and create more dependable releases of data pipelines, in close alignment with business objectives. This practice helps organisations adapt more quickly to changing conditions.
Getting back to basics: Before new initiatives complicate the issue, go back to basics – people, processes, and tools. To build resilience against future risk, invest in the right areas to recognise return on investment on data management more quickly.

You can read this year’s annual report here.