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.  

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, said “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.”