Successful companies say data is “extremely valuable” in creating competitive edge according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Companies today collect and access more information than ever before. Wal-Mart’s data warehouse, for example, is about 2.5 petabytes - - that’s equivalent to roughly half of all the letters delivered by the US postal service in 2010, according to The Economist. And Google processes about 1 petabyte of information each hour.
Around the world, executives agree that data are key to gaining an edge on rivals, as evidenced in a new white paper, Levelling the Playing Field: How companies use data to create competitive advantage. The report, which includes a survey of more than 600 executives worldwide, was produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by SAP, the German software giant.
Of the 38% of respondents who say their company performs ahead of its peers, 74% say that data are “extremely valuable” in achieving competitive advantage. The best corporate users of data devote substantial time to figuring out what sort of information they should track, and who within their companies needs it. They also invest in technology and training to make sure individual workers are able to capitalise on the data they have collected.
However, very few firms use the majority of the information they collect. Only 17% say they utilise more than 75% of their data, and only 27% of respondents say their firms do a better job of using information than most of their competitors. The ability to turn data into actionable insight can make or break firms over the next decade - - Gartner, the technology research firm, estimates that the volume of corporate data is growing by as much as 60% per year.
“The survey findings indicate that executives need to consider how to make better use of the information they collect from a strategic perspective,” says Debra D’Agostino, managing editor of business research at the Economist Intelligence Unit and editor of the report. “It’s not enough to merely collect the data; companies need to create strategies to ensure they can use information to get ahead of their competitors.”
The report offers several calls to action to help executives at both large and small companies:
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