Big Data Cynthia Crossland January 10, 2019

TechNews: Survey Shows Most Execs Blame Company Culture for Data Failures

Last week, NewVantage Partners released the results of its annual big data survey, which queried top executives from 65 Fortune 1000 companies and found that 92% of them are increasing their investments in big data and AI. Nearly as many execs (88%) report greater urgency to invest, realizing the need to start putting their data to work to gain greater agility in their ability to compete.

None of this is surprising. The great majority of organizations now recognize the full potential of data’s competitive value–but the operative word here is potential. While the need for enterprises to become more data-driven is clear, the NewVantage survey shows a stunning drop in the number of organizations that have actually been able to turn this need into a reality. While the number of organizations saying they’ve succeeded in creating a data-driven organization has only dropped from 37% in 2017 to 32% in 2018, what we should be seeing by now are long strides taken in the opposite direction. The survey stats that reflect the progress of data initiatives within these organizations are upside down on succeeding to create a data culture (31%), treating data as a business asset (47%), and competing on data and analytics (48%).

There’s some good news: 62% of those who have invested in big data and AI have seen measurable results. This hopefully suggests organizations will continue to recognize the potential value of data-driven enterprise and continue to pursue achieving a state of data-driven agility. The question is how dogged will they be in their pursuit, and how long will it take for them to overcome their early hurdles and move forward in their big data journeys.

Perhaps the most striking stat to come from the NewVantage survey is what executives point to as their biggest obstacle in achieving complete big data adoption: resistance from within their own organization. Yes, 95% of those surveyed say their biggest issue has been cultural–not technical, which only 5% blame.

Founding Analytix analyst Jen Underwood has written “data-driven cultures empower the masses with unprecedented self-service data source access,” which gets a big boost of enablement from technologies like Waterline Data’s AI-driven data catalog that help business analysts easily discover and use all the data housed throughout their organizations. But as the NewVantage survey shows, technology that gives broad access to data though everyday terms that virtually anyone within the organization can understand isn’t enough. Allowing data scientists and business analysts to spend less time looking for data and more time using it isn’t enough. Data-driven decision making must permeate every aspect of the enterprise from the top down. It must be clear that gut-driven decision making is out and data-driven decision making is in. The big data vision must be effectively illustrated and communicated to everyone. There must be company-wide access. Processes must be developed that keep data teams on point.

In future posts, we will explore ways businesses can create a more data-minded culture within their organizations. In the meantime, check out the Forbes article about the NewVantage Partners survey here.