A new report from data integrity firm Precisely and analytics community Corinium Global Intelligence explores how the exponential growth of business data, coupled with advancements in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things has unleashed an era of digital transformation across the globe—which is why data integrity is an urgent business imperative, because digital transformation initiatives and myriad business activities designed to set strategy, retain customers, and grow the business require trusted data to be successful.
But according to the research, an overwhelming majority of C-level data executives (82 percent) say data quality concerns represent a barrier to data integration projects—the precursor to digital transformation initiatives and deriving insights to power sound business decisions. Nearly as many (80 percent) also find it challenging to ensure data is consistently enriched with proper context at scale, which powers more informed business decisions.
The study also found that 65 percent of staff will only trust data-driven insights that confirm their existing gut feel. This begs the question of how to build ironclad trust in data that will encourage executives, as well as their frontline staff, to move confidently forward with data-backed insights that uncover hidden or unexpected connections.
“There’s a genuine sense of urgency as businesses in all industries and all regions engage in significant digital transformation initiatives,” said Amy O’Connor, chief data and information officer at Precisely, in a news release. “However, these programs must be built on a foundation of data integrity if they are to be successful.”
Data-driven initiatives fuel accelerating need for trusted data
The new research highlights some of the specific initiatives that CDOs are prioritizing in 2021 as they work to digitally transform their organizations. Top of the list for CDOs is meeting customer experience (CX) demands or expectations, which was identified as a top priority this year by just over 63 percent of respondents. Launching or scaling artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics is also a worldwide priority, with nearly 58 percent of respondents actively engaged in such projects this year. Nearly half of respondents in the report indicated their organizations are taking on initiatives in 2021 to:
- Meet compliance and regulatory requirements (48.68 percent)
- Enabling a remote or distributed workforce (48.36 percent)
- Facilitating micro-targeted or personalized customer communications (48.36 percent)
- Integrate or divest due to mergers & acquisitions (47.7 percent)
- Building a 360-degree view of customers (46.38 percent)
The wide variety of digital transformation initiatives being prioritized in 2021 highlights the growing importance of the Chief Data Officer function and the need for a foundation of trusted data to ensure the projects are successful.
Significant challenges stifle data-driven insights and innovation
The report revealed that despite the large number of digital transformation initiatives underway at the world’s leading enterprises, significant barriers and challenges still exist to achieving data integrity and ensuring the projects’ success. The new report revealed that:
- Data teams spend too much time on average (40 percent) cleaning and prepping data for analysis, with some reporting as high as 80 percent.
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65 percent) said staff will only trust insights from data if it confirms their gut feel.
- Data quality concerns are hampering data integration programs for 82 percent of CDOs.
- Almost 9 in 10 CDOs say they are challenged by a lack of staff with the right skills.
- 4 in 5 enterprises struggle to enrich their existing data at scale to uncover new insights and hidden patterns.
Industries are advancing toward data integrity at different paces
The report shows that while digital transformation is a priority across the board, industries are advancing at differing paces and experiencing varying results. Software and technology companies lead the way on establishing an analytics program that reveals insights with almost 80 percent of respondents saying they have been at least “quite successful” to-date. Transportation and logistics companies follow, reporting a 65 percent success rate. Retail lags all other industries with 55 percent of CDOs reporting results have been mixed or disappointing. Financial Services, Telecommunications, Insurance, and Healthcare all reported success rates of about 60 percent.
The report paints a different picture in terms of how successful companies are at integrating analytics programs into existing processes and driving enterprise-wide adoption. In this capacity, Retailers report a 60 percent success rate, trailing only Financial Services at 66 percent. Software and technology companies reported success rates of only 47 percent, with transportation and logistics companies at 43 percent. Government and education showed the most struggle, with less than 30 percent reporting success.
Regional differences exist but are less pronounced than among industries
The new report finds the trend toward digital transformation is worldwide, with less variation by region than by industry. Among the three regions examined in the report, the Americas, EMEA and APAC, companies in EMEA spend the most time cleaning and preparing data for analytics at 42 percent, with the Americas reporting a similar 41 percent. Companies in APAC reported considerably less time (29 percent) preparing data for analysis.
There is a worldwide shortage of skilled staff, with the three regions reporting similar challenges in finding the right staff for their objectives. Across regions, 85-90 percent of CDOs reported finding it “very challenging” or “quite challenging” to find staff with the right skills. The report found greater variation in CDOs ability to access the right tools or services for successful digital transformations. In the Americas, 76 percent of CDOs reported being challenged to find the right tools and services, compared to 70 percent in APAC and 69 percent in EMEA.
The representative global survey of 304 data-focused leaders was conducted in April and May 2021. Of these, 60% were from the Americas, 20% were from EMEA and 20% worked in the Asia Pacific region. Respondents were selected from global enterprises with at least 2,500 employees and are responsible for their organizations’ data strategy functions. They have job titles ranging from C-level to SVPs, VPs, directors and heads of department. Their enterprises operate in the financial services (20%), insurance (15%), retail (15%), telecoms (15%), healthcare or pharmaceutical (10%), transportation or logistics (5%), government or education (5%) and software or technology (5%) sectors. The remaining 10% were selected from other industry verticals.