China ahead of Australia and Japan in data maturity

Chinese firms are ahead of their peers in the Asia-Pacific region in tapping the potential of data, study finds

Chinese firms are ahead of their peers in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in harnessing the potential of data to improve business outcomes, a Splunk study has found.

According to the study, 48% of Chinese companies are considered data adopters and data innovators, compared to 45% of Australian companies and 26% of Japanese companies.

Simon Davies, vice-president for APAC at Splunk, said data innovators are typically data-obsessed and have the ability to use data for everything they do, from IT security and finance to sales and marketing.

“They also have a much higher propensity to use artificial intelligence to not only enhance data analysis but also to augment their work processes,” he told Computer Weekly, noting that innovators also see better customer retention, improved revenues and reduced costs.

In fact, 67% of Chinese firms, many of which described their company culture as customer-obsessed, believe that customer experience has been improved by better use of data.

Davies said data innovators are also more likely to have chief data officers as part of an executive team that prioritises the use of data, as compared to data deliberators which tend to have less than a third of their data visible and usable in their day-to-day business to drive revenue and operational efficiency.

Across the region, Japan has the highest proportion of data deliberators, with 74% of companies surveyed falling into that category.

“Japan was the lowest in terms of data maturity and the number of organisations that called themselves innovators, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Japanese firms are not using data,” Davies said, adding that 33% of them use data analytics to support decision-making.

“Japanese companies are best-in-class in terms of how they use and present data to their executives,” he said. “So, while they may not be as mature in unlocking the value of data, they do have a culture of using data to drive decision-making.”

One of the key inhibitors to achieving higher levels of data maturity is dark data, or data that has been collected but not surfaced or used to drive actionable insights.

According to the survey, Chinese companies know it is important to decipher dark data and discover previously untapped insights, with 31% of respondents stating that uncovering and better using dark data is their most important business and IT priority over the next 24 months, surpassing the global average of 25%.

Australian firms appear to have made the most progress in that regard, with 74% of organisations having reduced the volume of dark data over the past year. This is more than any other country, showing a willingness for Australians to harness data’s potential and do something meaningful with it, Davies said.

“Some 63% of Australian companies are also using data to speed up manufacturing and product development,” he added. “This gives them a competitive advantage by enabling them to get to market quickly.”

On what separates data innovators and adopters from deliberators, Davies cited access to tools and skills as the main differentiator. In Japan, for example, 38% of respondents had insufficient analytics tools or capabilities, and 35% did not have the tools to process data.

“Japan also had the least number of chief data officers, which is an indicator of an organisation’s data maturity,” Davies said. “They also have the lowest percentage of IT spend on analytics projects.”

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