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Highlights from Our 2021 Global Data Management Research

February 25, 2021 by Andrew Abraham

Using gel cleaner to avoid infectious diseases.

We are excited to announce the annual launch of our Global data management research! This year, we surveyed 700 business leaders across the U.S., U.K., and Brazil to get their perspective on usage of data throughout the pandemic.

There’s no question that data initiatives have been on the to-do list for over a decade now, but as the pandemic came storming in, businesses quickly realized that data management never made it to the top of the list. In other words, most businesses were not prepared for the rapid transformation they needed to sustain during the global health crisis because their data, simply, was not ready.

There are three major takeaways from this year’s study:

  1. An acceleration of digital transformation has made businesses reliant on high-quality data.

We find that business priorities have remained the same over the last few years: Customer experience and data security. However, these initiatives are more important than ever before, especially when it comes to digital transformation.

Seventy-two percent say an acceleration to digital transformation has made their business more reliant on data and data insights. Why? With dramatic changes in customer buying behaviour during the pandemic, and most employees still working remotely, digital engagement and operations have become key to sustaining business growth during economic crisis.

Our research finds that seventy-five percent of respondents say they have seen a dramatic change in their customer’s buying behavior during the pandemic. With stores closed, overwhelmed distribution and shipping warehouses, and unpredictable supply chains (bread flour, anyone?) …businesses need to leverage online platforms, like their website and social media, to stay engaged with customers. Nowadays, it’s not unusual for a brand’s customer experience to be solely digital.

Furthermore, with increased online activity and non-essential employees working from home, there’s a chance consumer or operational data could be at higher risk of unwanted actions or unauthorized users. This is where data security plays an important role in keeping records, and the business, safe.

From the efficiency of the customer experience online to the data that helps us analyze markets and attitudes changing at a dizzying pace…the right data has become indispensable.

The need for a data-driven digital operation and customer experience has made companies realize how mature their data functions are, or where there is opportunity for improvement.

  1. Data was not ready to sustain the impact of the pandemic.

For many years, we have looked at the maturity level of data quality in the market. Our hope was that this maturity level had increased to handle the new demands and desire for insight. Unfortunately for many, levels of quality data continued to fall short. Fifty-five percent of business leaders say they lack trust in their data assets, hindering their ability to be fully data driven.

The level of inaccurate data has remained high over the past five years of this study. Organizations believe about a third of their customer and prospect data is inaccurate in some way. Additionally, only fifty percent believe their CRM/ERP data is clean and can be fully leveraged.

Poor data quality creates several roadblocks within organizations, regardless of their maturity. While data can be inaccurate for a wide variety of reasons, such as human error or natural data decay, the impact is the same. Ninety-five percent of businesses have seen impacts related to poor data quality.

This could mean that poor quality data damages the reliability of analytics (36%), negatively affects customer experience (32%), and negatively impacts reputation and customer trust (32%). These challenges are difficult to overcome in any economy, especially one facing a pandemic.

Another challenging area is the inability to be agile with data. While eighty-four percent of respondents experienced greater demand for data insights, sixty-two percent admit a lack of agility in data processes hurt their response to changing business needs.

Ensuring high-quality data and agility within data practices is vital to improve customer experience, streamline operations, and accelerate digital transformation. By investing in data management now, businesses can sustain success despite any future market changes that are out of their control.

  1. Investing in data now will help businesses weather the next crisis.

Over the next six months, sixty-three percent of organizations see data management initiatives becoming more urgent—and the reason is resilience. Nine out of ten businesses are focused on improving data management resilience to at least some degree over the next year.

Businesses are investing in several key areas of data management like improving data quality, refining data governance, moving data to the cloud, and automating data processes. With over three quarters of our respondents saying, “investing in data management initiatives today will help businesses better weather the next crisis,” organizations across industries are hopping onto the data train.

This means that businesses need the right:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Technology

It’s important for companies to invest in the right areas of data today to recognize return on investment more quickly, build data resilience, and secure their future.

During the pandemic, businesses continue to struggle with a lack of technology, data quality, and skills. Data validation software verifies data at the point of capture and can automate the data cleansing process, ensuring data pipelines are accurate and contain valuable insights. This will enable team members to analyze and manage valid data and streamline their time to focus on growth-building strategies.

The right people, processes, and tools will not only help a business respond to the challenges they face in today’s environment, but also ensure a stable foundation.

Now, more than ever before, have we seen the true power of data. With reliable insights, businesses have the strength to confidently pivot strategies as market shifts arise, sustain the impact of the global health crisis, and prepare for what’s ahead.

Read the full report to learn how what you can do today to leverage data to respond to the current global health crisis and prepare for tomorrow. Download the research.

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