Dynamic Markets: CFOs see worth in data on balance sheet

About 20% of UK companies are assigning a financial value to their data, according to research sponsored by SAS. But only 16% of UK companies have a formal data management strategy.

One-fifth of UK companies are assigning financial value to their data, according to Dynamic Markets, a UK-based market research firm

The firm’s research is one of three pieces sponsored by analytics software and services company SAS. The others are an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study for SAS, Big Data II: Lessons from the Leaders, and a Harvard Business Review summary of a webinar carried out at a SAS Global Executive conference this year.

Dynamic Markets focused their research on chief financial officers (CFOs), and discovered that 44% of them believe good use of data can drive growth for the business.

But the Harvard Business Review study showed that 40% of UK business leaders say analytics are not used enough in their organization. And the EIU research revealed a slow pace of change. Only 16% of UK businesses in that survey had a well-defined data management strategy in place, and nearly half (47%) cited a dearth of analytical skills as their biggest problem.

At a briefing to launch the triad of sponsored research, Mark Wilkinson, the new SAS UK and Ireland managing director, said that though CFOs have become more data savvy in the past five years or so, chief information officers have, if anything, seen power swing back towards them.

In a webcast discussion allied to the research, Richard Kellett, director of marketing at SAS UK and Ireland, said: “the Dynamic Markets research revealed that nearly 60% of CFOs say their organisations are not making the most of their data. That was a surprising eye opener”.

And the crucial development, for both C-level constituencies, is the recognition of data as a financial asset on the balance sheet.

The Dynamic Markets research was conducted in the second quarter of this year among 100 finance professionals in large UK-based organisations with 1,000 or more employees worldwide. Thirty-six per cent were at CFO level and 64% at director level. About 41% of the companies have turnover of more than £1 billion, and 20% had sales of less than £249 million. SAS confirmed that respondents were not aware of its sponsorship of the research, which was conducted by telephone interviews.

About 67% of respondents saw data’s strategic importance in helping to retain customers, and 51% defined it as in cost-cutting during the recession. Dynamic Markets found that new regulation was also a factor, with 60% of companies saying that data’s role in compliance has made it more important. The research found this to be particularly the case in larger companies (75%), and in companies that already quantify the value of their data on the balance sheet (80%).

The EIU report, Big Data II: Lessons from the Leaders, surveyed 752 business professionals worldwide in March, 2012, 57 of whom were in the UK.  About 70% of respondents agreed real time data management is important.

However, almost half of the UK respondents bemoaned a lack of skills to get the good out of data and bewailed the time wasted by poor quality data.

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