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Big Data Has Big Effect When Shared Companywide

Two-thirds of execs say some departments have much better access to data than others

When it comes to maximizing big data, companies need to share the numbers across departments. Unfortunately, that’s not happening, based on October 2014 polling by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Availability of Data at Their Company According to Executives Worldwide, Oct 2014 (% of respondents)

Among executives surveyed worldwide, about two-thirds agreed that some departments in their organizations had much better access to data than others. Around four in 10 said access to relevant data was limited and strictly controlled at their organization or that accessing it wasn’t easy. And while more execs want to create a data-driven business, some had issues with employees gathering data, let alone sending it along to others.

Just over one-quarter of respondents believed that all employees had access to the data they needed—and only 16% said the same but that it was also available in a user-friendly way. The ability to customize data feeds and dashboards with data was allowed by few.

Ways in Which Their Company Has Changed due to the Greater Availability/Use of Data According to Executives Worldwide, Oct 2014 (% of respondents)

Nearly half of execs whose companies had made more data available agreed that collaboration across business units and departments had increased. Making data more available and usable also helped with speed and efficiency in many areas: 63% said information and knowledge were shared more quickly and freely, 57% were able to control internal risks and operate more efficiently, 45% said quality and speed of execution had improved and 42% said decisions at all levels of the organization were made faster.

One issue that stood out in EIU’s study was employees’ ability to use data. Just 25% of executives agreed that even when data was made available, employees were able to readily extract relevant insights, and an improvement in employee innovation was one of the least common changes due to data availability and utilization. Those who can’t handle data may be at risk: 41% of US marketing executives polled in October 2014 by Forbes Insights said that data analytics usage had resulted in new hires to bring in new skills—and possibly replace those who just don’t get it.

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