Monday, November 15, 2010

How companies fail with their data

According to Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google), “We now create in two days as much information as humanity did from the beginning of recorded history until 2003.” This growing data trend applies to business too--Gartner predicts that enterprise data in all forms will grow 650% over the next 5 years.

I recently reviewed the results of a business data survey covering 543 executives in 17 countries. The results confirmed Schmidt’s statement and Gartner’s prediction: The majority of respondents feel overwhelmed by the influx of data and believe it will greatly impact their business.

The question is this: What are you doing with all of this data?

In my experience, very few companies use this data to their advantage. Many companies have not yet figured out how to use, or even control the incoming flow of data. When it comes to data, companies usually fall into one of three categories:

Have trouble accessing data: Many companies have data, lots of it, but can’t easily access that data. In the survey, 61% said they want faster access to data and 33% said they are regularly unable to find the right people who can provide the right information when they need it. Even worse, one quarter of these executives said they lost business because they couldn’t access the right data.

Overwhelmed by data: 56% of the survey respondents feel overwhelmed by the amount of data their company manages. Many companies have not yet figured out how to access their data in a manageable fashion. Access to cluttered, unorganized data is just as bad as inaccessible data. Both will harm your company.

Use data as a competitive advantage: On the other side of these problems are companies who have figured out how to use data to their advantage. Using tools like an interactive report, they easily access and analyze large amounts of data in an organized way. They use this data to improve business forecasting, make better decisions, and increase their competitive position.

Which category does your company fall into? According to the survey, those who can’t access or can’t manage their data stand to make poor decisions and even lose sales. The most important question: If your company falls into one of the first two categories, what are you doing about it?


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