ITEM: Most business leaders in Asia know that data is essential to making strategic business decisions quickly and navigating economic uncertainties – but most of them aren’t actually using it. What’s going on?
According to a new survey from Salesforce, the problem is that business leaders have more data than they know what to do with and don’t have the skills to do anything meaningful with it.
The survey of business leaders in Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) reveals that companies in the region see value in using data to drive business decisions, especially in times of uncertainty. For example, 81% of business leaders say data is critical in decision-making at their organisation, while 73% agree that data helps reduce uncertainty and make more accurate decisions in business conversations.
Overwhelmed by volumes and complexity
But even with that understanding of the value of data, 69% said they’re not using data to decide on pricing in line with economic conditions, such as inflation. Only 30% are using data to inform their launch strategy in new markets.
In fact, most aren’t even using data for CSR purposes. More than three-quarters (77%) of respondents aren’t using data to inform their organisation’s diversity and inclusion policies, while only 18% use data to guide their climate targets.
When asked why they’re not practicing what they preach, the answers essentially boil down to paralysis in the face of the sheer volume and complexity of data to wade through, and not having the right skillsets to overcome it.
For example, 41% cite a lack of understanding of data because it’s too complex or not accessible enough, while 29% said they’re overwhelmed by the amount of data. That’s especially worrying because data volumes are not going to get any smaller. IDC expects them to more than double in size by 2026. Meanwhile, around 36% cite the lack of ability to generate insights from data.
Data literacy training = data culture
The good news is that 74% of APJ companies do plan to continue or increase spending on data skills development and training for employees.
JY Pook, senior vice president and general manager of Asia Pacific, Tableau at Salesforce, says that data literacy training for employees can establish a data culture that supports business goals and improves resilience during the tough economic climate.
“Business leaders already acknowledge that data provides critical business advantages, and they need to match this with action for a data-driven culture to permeate,” Pook says. “The onus is on leaders to operationalise company-wide data skills training across every role and rank to build a knowledgeable workforce that can uncover new opportunities while ensuring the business’s competitive advantage.”
The APJ results are part of a larger global survey from Salesforce. More details here.
Related article: APAC firms are being overwhelmed by customer data