Survey: big data strategy critical, staff shortages a concern

Strong link between defined data strategies and success, reveals SAS-sponsored Economist Intelligence Unit survey

A new global survey, Big data: lessons from the leaders , finds a strong correlation between financially successful businesses and a well-defined data strategy.

Conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by business analytics leader SAS, the report explores how far the more than 700 companies surveyed have come on their journey toward a mature data strategy. It further identifies how to exploit the massive amounts of data companies collect.

Nearly half of companies that "significantly outperform their peers financially" reported a well-defined data strategy – four times the number performing on par with peers. The survey suggests companies should prioritize business goals to determine a data strategy and hire employees with the knowledge and skills to manage big data initiatives.

The impact of data on the business landscape is unprecedented, with the amount and types of data that organizations have access to growing exponentially. According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the world now creates the same amount of data every two days as was generated between the dawn of civilization and 2003.

"An organization's data is only as good as the business insights it reveals," said Paul Kent, SAS Vice President of Big Data. "Mapping your big data strategy to address your challenges is crucial. But the importance of hiring the right people to manage and analyze your data and communicate results cannot be overstated."

Additional survey insights:

  • Social media is mainstream. Some 66 percent of companies surveyed are collecting Web data about their customers, but just 22 percent said that social media and Web data significantly affects customer experience; this number jumps to 32 percent among high-performing companies
  • The need for speed. Sixty-five percent of respondents said the speed at which their companies process data has increased over the past year. High-performing companies in the survey experienced "significant" increases, compared to just 17 percent of other companies. Increased speed has the most significant effect on strategic decision making (63 percent).
  • People as assets. Data scientists and data stewards are necessary for gaining insight from data. Yet the survey finds skilled data workers in short supply.
  • Reporting is half the battle. Properly communicating the results of data-driven initiatives has challenged many organizations. Results must be shared with employees at all levels in various departments – from IT to C-level – in language they can easily understand.

Download a free copy of the survey at

About the survey

The Economist Intelligence Unit survey was conducted in March 2012. The 752 respondents were based mainly in Western Europe (33 percent), North America (28 percent) and Asia-Pacific (26 percent). Nineteen industries were surveyed, including manufacturing (12 percent), IT and technology (11 percent), financial services (11 percent), professional services (10 percent), health care, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology (8 percent), and consumer goods (7 percent). Fifty percent of respondents were C-level or board-level executives, 55 percent were from companies with annual revenue exceeding US$500 million.

About the Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world leader in global business intelligence. It is the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist.. As the world's leading provider of country intelligence, the Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives make better business decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies. More information about the Economist Intelligence Unit can be found at or follow us on

Acerca de SAS

SAS es líder en Analytics. A través de innovadoras soluciones de Analytics, Gestión de Datos y Business Intelligence, SAS ayuda a clientes en más de 80.000 instalaciones a tomar mejores decisiones más rápidamente. Desde 1976, SAS proporciona a sus clientes en todo el mundo THE POWER TO KNOW®

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