Report: The Past, Present, and Future of Data

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Understanding Challenges and Opportunities in Data Management

The importance of data to the business world has grown enormously in the past decade. According to some estimates, we’ve gone from a global datasphere of two zettabytes in 2010 to an estimated 41 zettabytes in 2019. With so much data on hand, it’s now more important than ever to find useful meaning in it – or we risk becoming overwhelmed with information.

Dun & Bradstreet commissioned a survey of business leaders in the UK and the US to understand how their data management strategies have evolved in the last decade, the challenges they still encounter, and their plans to transform by 2030.

We found that some businesses are successfully using data to improve how they work, to develop new capabilities, and even to develop new business models. Yet others are struggling to put their data to good use, whether that’s better serving customers, finding new prospects, managing risk, understanding their supply chain, or any combination of these.

We’re at a pivotal moment in the evolution of data. As such, data management is something that every business – in every sector – has to get right.

Data Management Study Key Findings

The Past: Realizing the Value of Data Overall, businesses’ biggest challenges in the last decade have all related to the fundamentals of using data. Nearly half (46%) say that they haven’t had the right technology to take advantage of their data. These shortcomings in data management have led to significant, business-critical challenges.

The Present: Perfecting the Basics – Data is integral to business operations, and business leaders say that data informs their decisions an average of 16 times a day. Some businesses are still struggling with master data management, with the functional aspects of handling data most often what poses a problem. Therefore, data protection and cybersecurity are a concern. Sixty percent of leaders say that data theft, data leaks, and fraud are top of mind for their business – a reminder that security must be a fundamental pillar of any data management strategy.

The Future: Scoping Data’s True Potential – Business leaders understand that the value of data will increase in the years ahead and say they are investing in new technologies to collect, analyze, and use data, including data management software (68%), machine learning (48%), blockchain (44%), and edge computing (42%). Survey respondents also believe that technological developments will create new and different challenges, especially around regulation and the ethical use of data.

Data has extraordinary potential in the years ahead. With new technologies on the horizon, businesses will be able to turn that data into incredibly valuable insights about their customers, their supply chains, and themselves. But to realize this value – and the competitive advantage it can bring – businesses need to master their present challenges with the fundamentals of data management and look ahead to develop more ambitious strategies. That focus means dedicating time and resources to data management in order to ensure that information is accessible, accurate, and – most crucial – acted on.

An advanced data management strategy can enable businesses to keep track of new opportunities in a rapidly changing environment, grasp what customers want and where to find them, understand and strengthen their supply chains, and not only keep up with government regulations like GDPR but build ethical practices from the ground up.

Download the study, “The Past, Present, and Future of Data,” to understand business’s current challenges and future opportunities in data management.

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