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Data's essential role in building business resilience

As the global economy continues to face significant challenges, including recession, experts at Dun & Bradstreet, a leading global provider of business decisioning data and analytics, have shared their thoughts on the top considerations for businesses when it comes to making the best use of their data in 2023.

Ed Thorne, General Manager, Dun & Bradstreet Europe commented: “Businesses are facing another challenging year in 2023 due to continued slow economic growth, increased complex regulation, and soaring running costs. One of the most effective ways to build resilience in business is to be proactive and prepared for an unpredictable environment. Data and analytics can help companies not only manage and mitigate risk, but also identify opportunities to adapt and grow.”

From the importance of quality over quantity of data, to an increased focus on data privacy and governance, Dun & Bradstreet has identified six data predictions for 2023.

Six predictions about data 2023

1. Quality data will become vital as businesses navigate “world firsts”

When it comes to getting the most out of data, companies should focus on quality over quantity. Using low quality or inappropriate data can do more harm than good, diluting the power of the valuable data an organisation holds and making it difficult to derive real value. Nevertheless, “cleaning up” this data, as well as ensuring an organisation’s data cloud is up to date, is proving a significant business challenge.

For this reason, it’s important to have a team in place which is accountable for keeping a business’ data estate in order. While technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) can help lessen the burden, human, expert oversight is needed to ensure mistakes aren’t made. In a world where we are experiencing so many 'firsts' (climate crisis, pandemic, unprecedented global supply chain challenges), and in which AI often learns from past events to help predict future outcomes, it’s easy to see where the problem lies. Predictive methodologies now clearly require different data and analytics to understand an uncertain future.

2. Data regulations will increase

Regulatory focus on data privacy and governance will only increase. Companies will need to steward their data and analytic methods to ensure that these are being managed and used not only in accordance with current regulations, but in such a way as to keep pace with an evolving regulatory landscape. Regulators across the globe are focused not only on privacy, but also on data location, ethical use of data and AI, cross-border data transfer, and explainability of methods.

3. Businesses will have to do more with less under financial constraints

As some markets globally move into recession, businesses will feel the pinch financially. Effective and efficient use of data and automation is therefore going to be essential for businesses to streamline operations and help teams to make smarter decisions, faster. Data does not just benefit planning departments, it helps the sales team, marketing team, and ultimately the C-suite to operate more effectively and holistically. Resilience, especially in times of great stress, is fuelled by having the right information to make decisions to sustain in times of stress and to recover quickly in the future.

Data can and should be used to help with robust financial planning – it will be more important than ever before that teams know if their customers are going to pay them on time, as well as managing timelines for their suppliers to ensure they deliver. Stress in any ecosystem commonly lies with parties that do not interact directly. When it comes to sales teams, data will help to retain existing, loyal customers by

  • understanding the best timings and touchpoints to maintain satisfaction,
  • as well as to understand and predict changing customer needs,
  • whilst identifying new prospects to help build a strong sales pipeline.

4. Ensuring data ROI (return on investment) will require best-in-class data

To make the most effective decisions, businesses will need to feed their systems with high quality data, which is accurate, timely and fit-for-purpose. Too often, data can be old, incomplete or derive from a single, potentially biased, source. There is truth in the adage ‘bad data in, bad decisions out.’ Having the right quality data will provide companies with intelligence to help them navigate through turbulent times.

To ensure that a business is getting the most from its data, that data will need to be cleansed, validated, merged, enriched, and linked into one complete and accurate view. Businesses will need to think about the data that they are ingesting and evaluate whether that data is suitable to meet its needs and support strategic decisions.

5. Businesses will have to reassess their strategies constantly

Companies will need to review and test their data strategy constantly. A data strategy that worked for 2021 or even 2022 might not be fit for purpose in 2023. Ongoing testing and challenge will enable a company to implement a data strategy that reflects

  1. the needs of the business,
  2. is designed to address challenges and risk,
  3. and to identify opportunity.
Businesses will need to take steps for recovery not just survival – as hard as it might be when times feel tough, a company will need to keep one eye on the future to be ‘match fit’ for when the world emerges from its current malaise. If there is a pressure to spend less, then business will need to spend smarter.

6. Businesses can’t go it alone in 2023 when it comes to data

Business leaders must surround themselves with experts who will bring value to the table, especially via new data insights. Having the right partners will help companies set and implement a robust data strategy to build a resilient business.