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Decision Makers Reveal Practices, Problems with Using Enterprise Data

Most survey respondents give their organizations a high grade for its ability to leverage data for making decisions, but problems persist.

A survey conducted for SAP provides insight on the role data plays in decision making and the problems still facing enterprises in their analyses.

Data is being used across the enterprise: 67 percent of respondents said data was used by IT, followed by sales (63 percent), accounting (62 percent), HR (also 62 percent), and marketing (60 percent).  Decisions about sales topped the list of the types of decisions made at 69 percent, followed closely by decisions about purchases (68 percent) and marketing (67 percent).  Decisions had better be supported by hard facts, not gut feel: 95 percent say they always or sometimes are asked to use company data to back up their decisions and recommendations; the same percent asks their direct reports to do the same.

Respondents find value in those tools.  Without them, they say it would take on average an additional 9 hours to see patterns, trends, and correlations in the data they examine.

To help with those decisions, 69 percent reported they currently use data visualization tools, and of the 23 percent with plans to integrate such tools, 71 percent expect to have those tools in place by the end of Q1 2015.  That may, in part, account for the good grades respondents give themselves when evaluating their company’s ability to leverage data for making decisions.  Over a quarter (27 percent) give their organization an “A,” and 46 percent give their company a “B.”

Access to data is more pervasive: five years ago, 33 percent of employees (on average) had access to their company’s data and used it for making decisions.  Today the figure is 50 percent.  Respondents predict that within five years, access to data via mobile devices will grow; 91 percent say the demand for data visualization tools on mobile devices will increase “a lot” or “a little.” 

Who’s going to be accessing the data?  Ninety-one percent of respondents say that the best data analysis comes from specially trained data scientists. However, 86 percent agree that “eventually, all employees in a company will be to be ‘data geeks,’” meaning they will have the skills to analyze the data and makes decisions based on their analysis.

How much of that data is being used to its full potential?  On average, respondents say 61 percent of their data is; 28 percent claim at least three-quarters of their data is being used to the max.  However, data analytics is not without its problems.  Thirty-eight percent say it takes too long to find meaningful trends and patterns in their data, and the same percentage complain that their analyses are not updated in real time.  The volume of company data is too large to conduct in-depth analysis for 36 percent of enterprises, and 31 percent say their analysis is not interactive.  Thirty percent note that IT lacks the skills to analyze the data.

Wakefield Research invited 400 U.S. business decision makers by e-mail to participate in the online survey by Wakefield Research in September.  The margin of error is 4.9 percentage points.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of the Business Intelligence Journal and BI This Week newsletter. You can contact him here.

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