More than 60 per cent of C-suite own big data strategy

big data

The number of C-suite executives responsible for big data has risen more than 20 per cent in the past four years, according to a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which characterised companies as being in their data “adolescence”.

The EIU report, sponsored by SAS and entitled Big data evolution: Forging new corporate capabilities for the long term, was based on a global survey of 550 executives of firms with annual revenues in excess of US$50m across 19 industries. The surveys were conducted in early 2015, with comparisons to 2011 and 2012 survey results.

In 2015, 62 per cent of data strategy ownership was firmly located with CIOs, CTOs or CDOs, compared to just 40 per cent in 2011, with CIOs now showing the highest increase in ownership, rising to 39 per cent in 2015 from 23 per cent four years earlier.

“Moving up to the C-suite means that data initiatives have had to move on from theoretical possibilities to solving real business problems. But the pressure is on: financial resources for data initiatives are still limited and there is more data available than ever. So it’s less about volume and velocity, and more about value. You need to make sure you select projects carefully so that the data you collect and analyse can show their worth through a solid financial return,” said Sunmin Kim, editor of the report.

Businesses looking to maximise their return may take notice of the fact that although CIOs are most likely to be the executives responsible for data strategy, CDOs were reported to deliver more value when they hold that responsibility.
Companies with a CDO in charge of data initiatives reported that their companies were more competent in four categories:

  • Selecting and collecting useful data
  • Selecting and implementing technology for analysing data
  • Training or acquiring analytical talent
  • Using data creatively to advance the business

Overall, the report found that companies with a well-defined data strategy are much more likely to achieve financial success and outperform their competitors. A full 78 per cent of companies who reported using data strategically also reported their company performance to be ahead of the competition.