There is a strong correlation between successful businesses and a well-defined data strategy, according to a survey sponsored by business intelligence and analytics solutions provider SAS.
The global survey, Big Data: Lessons From the Leaders, was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and looks at where the more than 700 companies surveyed stand in their efforts to implement a data strategy. It also identifies how to exploit the massive amounts of data companies collect.
The survey showed that nearly half of companies that "significantly outperform their peers financially" reported a well-defined data strategy-four times the number performing on par with peers. The survey results suggest that companies should prioritize business goals to determine a data strategy and hire employees with the knowledge and skills to manage big data initiatives.
SAS officials said the impact of data on the business landscape is unprecedented, with the amount and types of data that organizations have access to growing exponentially.
"An organization's data is only as good as the business insights it reveals," Paul Kent, vice president of big data at SAS, said in a statement. "Mapping your big data strategy to address your challenges is crucial. But the importance of hiring the right people to manage and analyze your data and communicate results cannot be overstated."
The survey indicated that new roles such as data scientists and data stewards are necessary for gaining insight from data; however, workers skilled in these areas are in short supply.
Meanwhile, 66 percent of companies surveyed said they are collecting Web data about their customers, but just 22 percent said that social media and Web data significantly affects customer experience; this number jumps to 32 percent among high-performing companies.
Also, 65 percent of respondents said the speed at which their companies' process data has increased over the past year. High-performing companies in the survey experienced "significant" increases, compared with just 17 percent of other companies. And 63 percent of respondents said increased speed has the most significant effect on strategic decision making.
Interested parties can get a copy of the report here.
The Economist Intelligence Unit survey was conducted in March 2012. The 752 respondents were based mainly in Western Europe (33 percent), North America (28 percent) and the Asia-Pacific region (26 percent). Nineteen industries were surveyed, including manufacturing (12 percent), IT and technology (11 percent), financial services (11 percent), professional services (10 percent), health care, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology (8 percent), and consumer goods (7 percent). Fifty percent of respondents were C-level or board-level executives, 55 percent were from companies with annual revenue exceeding $500 million.