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Data’s direct impact on the bottom line

Many companies are still missing an opportunity and believe they have little or no capacity for using data to open up new markets

Wilkinson: IoT data sources will
Wilkinson: IoT data sources will

UK organisations that have a data-first strategy are more likely to out-perform their competitors, says a new report by analytics company SAS.


According to the findings of Big Data: Forging corporate capabilities for the long-term, more than a third of respondents (35 per cent) that have a well-defined data strategy reported their company’s financial performance as substantially ahead of peers in the most recent financial year. The SAS research programme was based on a survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit.


In contrast, just 10 per cent of ‘aspiring data managers’ that merely understand the value of data and are marshalling resources to take better advantage of it, make the same claim. In addition, 38 per cent who put nearly all their relevant data to use are highly successful in their big data initiatives.


“Organisations that put data firmly at the centre of their organisation are better equipped to introduce changes that grow the bottom line,” explained Mark Wilkinson, SAS regional vice president, Northern Europe. “Currently, analysing internal unstructured text data, such as customer inquiries, reports, technical and business notes, and web click-stream data is a significant focus for data initiatives. However, external unstructured data and Internet of Things data sources will command a greater focus in the next 12 months and present further opportunities for organisations.”


Almost a third (32 per cent) of UK executives and 38 per cent elsewhere claimed the increasing availability of data has presented opportunities for strengthening operational efficiency. However, despite the strong belief in the value and usefulness of data, opportunities for improved use still exist. More than a third of UK organisations (34 per cent) believe they have little or no capability for using data to open up new markets. The viewpoint is similar when discussing use of data to speed up market entry, where 31 per cent in the UK feel their organisations are lacking in this regard. A quarter of UK organisations also view using data to develop new products or services as a challenge.


When it comes to the most significant challenges that companies face in using data for business innovation, 29 per cent in the UK believe it’s engaging creative employees in using data effectively. A further 28 per cent believe it’s providing creative employees with the easy and flexible tools that enable innovation. Ensuring user buy-in to data initiatives is important globally, with 24 per cent of respondents overall stating that encouraging employees to use data in decision-making, problem-solving and idea generation is a priority. However, only 16 per cent in the UK share this view, which is a potential setback.


One in five (20 per cent) in the UK claimed they lacked the skills to use data effectively and hiring and retaining talent for big data is listed as a top priority for UK organisations.



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