The ability to store, manage and analyse data is increasingly crucial to businesses of all sizes, but according to research by in-memory analytics database creator Exasol, the importance of data is not being fully recognised by over a third of business leaders.

Exasol’s Making the Enterprise Data Centric report found that data is increasingly crucial to the majority of organisations, with 80% unable to function without their data sources, and 25% totally reliant on data in daily operations and decision-making.

However, despite 79% of organisations surveyed said they had become more reliant on data in the last five years, 32% of UK business did not think that their business leaders fully understood the role and importance of data. This is despite the fact that data analytics is set to contribute £241bn to the UK economy between 2015 and 2020.

This lack of understanding from senior staff can impede organisations in becoming data-driven. The report found that a lack of board-level support for data initiatives has contributed to project failures in 23% of enterprises.

The importance of data in business

It is clear from the findings that, at a time when consumers are increasingly aware of how their data is being used, properly managing data and applying it to decision-making contributes to a business’s success. However, although the majority of organisations aspire to be data driven, only 1% currently regard themselves as a data driven enterprise.

CEO of Exasol Aaron Auld believes that educating business leaders on the importance of data is crucial:

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“Organisations can only deliver on their strategies to become more data-driven enterprises when business leaders understand the value of data. A crucial part of this is education and CIOs and data professionals have a vital role to play to ensure business leaders within the organisation are given easy access to information that helps them achieve their goals. This earns the understanding and cooperation that project-by-project data transformation requires.”

But how does a company become data driven? Auld gave the following advice on how to achieve this:

“Organisations don’t become data-driven enterprises overnight – they first have to decide where to apply data analytics to meet this challenge… Successful projects are always business-driven, and from this success at the core they can begin to transform their business by looking for more, and better, data to enhance that project and permeate data transformation down their value chain.”