Over a quarter (26%) of businesses will not be fully data-driven for another four to five years, according to findings from the latest FinTech Barometer survey of finance professionals, carried out by Visma | Onguard.

The company says that the research reflects a move to becoming data-driven being a long-term agenda item for many businesses, with only 15% hoping to reach this goal within the next year.

In the wake of a year of disruption and uncertainty, the most popular driver for becoming fully data-driven was the hope of being more responsive to market developments and trends (23%). Wanting to improve the customer experience was also front of mind for 22% of businesses, reflecting the need to keep pace with rapidly evolving consumer expectations in order to remain competitive. In line with this, 16% were hoping to use their data to increase service/product offering.

Despite a significant portion of businesses stating that they are still working towards becoming fully data-driven, for most organisations, data is already contributing to their digital strategies. 38% currently utilise data in a supporting capacity to assist in their businesses processes, while over a quarter (27%) of businesses also possess large amounts of data but are unsure of how to maximise its potential. Only 6% of respondents reported not leveraging data in any way.

Although fully data-driven processes remain a long-term objective in the main, finance professionals have high expectations when it comes to the potential of big data.  Second only to artificial intelligence (40%), the big data trend is expected to have the greatest impact on the order-to-cash process in the financial sector (34%), with cloud & SaaS (32%) following closely behind.

Marieke Saeij, CEO at Visma | Onguard said  “The journey to becoming a fully data-driven organisation is undoubtedly a long-term process fraught with challenges, supported by the fact that over a quarter of businesses expect to spend at least four years making the transition. What’s clear however is the recognised need among businesses to be more agile in their operations and meet changing market developments, particularly after the challenges of the last 12 months.”

“The rapid emergence of supporting technologies, such as Intelligent Automation (IA), which is the combination of big data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, allows business processes that are not repetitive or predictable to be automated through intelligence, immediately allowing organisations to leverage their data in a more effective way.”