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Survey: Strategic data management yields competitive advantage

Enterprises leading the charge to analyse Big Data report transformative effect

26 October 2011 - A new survey has found that organisations with formal data management strategies derive more value from data assets and outperform competitors. The survey, Big Data: Harnessing a game-changing asset , was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by SAS, the leader in business analytics.

The global study found that the UK lags behind the rest of the world in data management, with 42 per cent of UK organisations reporting vast quantities of untapped useful data, nearly double what the rest of the world reported (22 per cent).

On top of this, 71 per cent report difficulty in accessing their data in a timely manner, whereas this is true for only 52 per cent of non-UK organisations. This is less surprising however, when you consider that just half of UK respondents indicate that they have a formal data management strategy or are marshalling resources to take better advantage of big data

"Untapped data represents untapped opportunities, knowledge and ultimately profit," said Ian Manocha, managing director at SAS UK and Ireland. "By analysing data effectively organisations can glean insights into their company which otherwise would remain unknown, using historical events to predict future impact of decisions on the business. It's worrying that the UK seems to be lagging behind the rest of the world in reaping the rewards data can deliver. In such a challenging global economic environment the UK cannot afford to get left behind in ultilising data for the benefit of businesses and end users alike."

On a global level, only 18 percent of 586 senior executives surveyed worked at organisations committed to collecting and analysing data via a well-defined data management plan. Among those strategic data managers, 64 percent put nearly all that data to good use.

Moreover, 1 in 2 of those with a data management strategy stated that they outperformed their competitors compared to just 1 in 3 of those without a data management strategy. These findings clearly demonstrate the opportunity that a robust data management strategy can bring to organisations.

"A well-defined data management plan – systematically collecting and analysing key data – is much more strongly associated with success than a disjointed data strategy," said Jim Davis, SAS Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President.

"Nearly half of respondents said data management strategy is sponsored by the CEO or another C-level executive, underscoring data as a strategic corporate asset," he said.

Big data changes everything

Growing enterprise data volumes threaten to overwhelm organisations lacking a broad data management plan. Business analytics pulls insights from massive databases commonly referred to as big data.

Clearly, most companies understand the value of big data, yet some struggle to exploit it. The biggest barriers are too much data and too few resources, said 45 percent of responses.

"With corporate data doubling yearly, optimising information management to prepare big data for business analytics is imperative in today's hyper-competitive business environment," said Davis.

Data and analytics at the core

Increased use of data has made the information technology function more strategic to the business, according to 53 percent of respondents. Big data harnessed effectively via big data analytics can transform companies, said Davis.

Use of data over the past five years "has completely changed the way we do business," said 23 percent of organisations with formal data management strategies. Even in the entire pool of respondents, including non-strategic data users, 39 percent said they use data to drive strategy.

"Data provides transformational insight, but not by just sitting there. Pulling value from data requires business analytics – comprehensive technologies that manage data, analyse it and deliver insights for improved decision making," said Davis.

The demographics for the SAS-sponsored EIU study were:

  • Geography: 31 percent North America, 31 percent Europe, 28 percent Asia Pacific, 6 percent Latin America; 5 percent Middle East and Africa.
  • Company size: 48 percent less than $500 million (US) revenue; 38 percent more than $1 billion annual revenue.
  • Industry: 13 percent financial services, 11 percent professional services, 11 percent manufacturing, 10 percent technology; 8 percent health care.


Today's announcement came at The Premier Business Leadership Series event in Orlando, Fla., a thought-leadership conference presented by SAS that brings together more than 600 senior-level attendees from the public and private sectors to share ideas on critical business issues.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions delivered within an integrated framework, SAS helps customers at more than 50,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world The Power to Know® .

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