Business leaders continue to struggle with harnessing the power of data

New research reveals that while business leaders know using data is important to their business, the vast majority are struggling to harness its power for better decision-making and business results.
Written by Vala Afshar, Contributing Writer
Woman with a laptop surrounded by tall visualizations of data and infrastructure
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"Data is not like oil. Data is like water. It is essential for life, and it needs to be clean and accessible to all." -- Crawford Del Prete, President IDC

New IT research found that teams across the business demand automation -- which also means greater access to quality data. Automation adoption is on the rise. Most IT organizations centrally manage (67%) and track (59%) automation work, but as more non-IT roles request automation, organizations are turning to no-code tools and approaches to meet demand. 

The most significant challenge that business leaders face in terms of developing a more efficient and productive environment with use of automation is data silos. Data silos exist because of the lack of integration and orchestration that is required across disparate business applications and processes. New research shows that application growth continues with organizations using an average of 1,061 different applications. Just 29% of these applications are integrated. The resulting data silos are a barrier to creating integrated user experiences for 90% of organizations. 

Organizations spent an average of $4.7 million on custom integration labor in the past 12 months, up from $3.6 million last year. Integration hinders digital transformation for 80% of organizations. This figure rises to 90% for organizations behind on their anticipated digital transformation progress. There are a number of different data integration challenges facing organizations today. These include incorporating data-derived insights into user-facing applications (77%), moving data from source systems into the data warehouse (75%), and reusing data sources across different user-facing applications (72%). 

Forward-looking predictions regarding digital transformation and use of data found that organizations will increasingly automate data-driven decision intelligence to reduce the huge costs of wasted opportunities. 

As part of their composable strategy, organizations will focus more attention on creating a data fabric to reduce wasted business opportunities that stem from poor or untimely decisions by unlocking value from siloed data.

Research from IDC shows that firms will increasingly automate data-driven decision intelligence to reduce the huge cost of wasted opportunities. According to IDC, enterprise intelligence can help improve financial, employee, customer, and offering outcomes, driving digital resilience, agility, and innovation in the process.

In fact, 60% of organizations that scored highest on its enterprise intelligence index scale experienced major improvements in decision making. That's compared to just 1% of those with poor enterprise intelligence. 

By embedding analytics into this data fabric, organizations can automate decision making, helping them dynamically improve data usage and cut data management efforts by 70%, accelerating time to value. Almost 80% of organizations in some industries will be digitally dependent by 2023, leading to a massive increase in the data flow within industry ecosystems.

A survey of over 1,000 IT leaders also revealed the importance of data in terms collaboration within the business. The survey highlighted the need for improving collaborative processes needed between IT and business teams. IT is no longer just a technology enabler; IT now solves business-critical problems, tackles major business objectives, and helps develop competitive advantages with technology. This shift requires IT and business teams to work in closer collaboration for strategic objectives. However, 98% of IT leaders said that working processes between IT and business teams could be improved.

"Measurement is fabulous. Unless you're busy measuring what's easy to measure as opposed to what's important." -- Seth Godin

A new global survey of 10,000 business leaders across 10 countries (US, UK, FR, DE, JP, AUS, SG, IN, BR, MX) found that while business leaders know using data is important for their business, the majority are not using its power to improve decision velocity and positive business outcomes. 

Here are the 10 key findings from the Salesforce's Untapped Data Research:

  1. Eight in 10 business leaders say data is critical in decision-making at their organization today.
  2. More than two-thirds (67%) of business leaders are not using data to decide on pricing in line with economic conditions, such as inflation.
  3. Less than one-third (29%) are using data to inform their strategy when launching in new markets.
  4. Only 17% of business leaders are using data to help guide their climate targets.
  5. Focus improves outcomes: 72% of business leaders think data keeps people focused on the things that matter and that are relevant to the business.
  6. Reducing time to value is a function of quality data: 73% agree data helps accelerate decision-making.
  7. Trust, but verify: 73% believe that data builds trust in business conversations.
  8. Simplification of data and easier access remains a business obstacle: 41% of business leaders cite a lack of understanding of data because it is too complex or not accessible enough.
  9. Investing in data literacy is an investment in your stakeholder's success: 73% of companies are planning to continue or increase spending on data skills development and training for employees.
  10. Achieving your company's full data potential is not a destination, it is a journey. Almost one-third (30%) are overwhelmed by the amount of data, which is expected to more than double in size by 2026.

According to Francois Ajenstat, chief product officer at Tableau, decision intelligence is about helping people make better decisions that lead to better outcomes. "The businesses that thrive in the next five to 10 years are the ones that focus on improving the decisions they're making and driving better outcomes, not just better data," said Ajenstat. 

Business leaders must continue to invest in people, processes and technologies that improve the use of data so that they can improve decision velocity in order to deliver value at the speed of need. Business that are able to grow and stay relevant are businesses with a data-driven culture and mindset. 

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