Why don’t managers trust their data?

In recent years, terms such as ‘data-driven organisation’ and ‘data-driven culture’ have become popular buzzwords in the sphere of Analytics. However, a new report released by Capgemini Research Institute reveals there is still some way to go before managers are sufficiently confident to truly embrace the approach these terms represent. Why is this? We’ll try and find out here.

When an organisation is data-driven this means that data is used to take virtually all major operational decisions, in other words, decisions are based on fact. Quite simply, more fact and less gut feeling. For those of us who work with Analytics, this seems perfectly natural. After all, this is what we have chosen as our profession – to gather, enrich and present data in a way that allows decision-makers to use it in their daily work in order to take operational, tactical and strategic decisions. Today there is considerable evidence showing that organisations that adopt this approach are more successful than organisations that do not.

What is more, we are being constantly told that there has never previously been as much data available as there is today. At the same time, the tools and methods used to gather, refine and present data have never been more advanced than they are today.

Managers don’t have faith in their data

Despite all these excellent prerequisites, however, data is not always used to take major operational decisions. Why is this? A study entitled “The data-powered enterprise” that was recently produced by Capgemini Research Institute and which we co-authored with the Institute, reveals that one important reason is that managers quite simply do not have faith in their data. The fact is that only 20% of managers fully trust their data. This is a remarkably low figure and it reflects a serious situation for several reasons, not least among them being that many opportunities are missed since managers are uncertain as to whether they can genuinely rely on their data. Many decisions are therefore not taken, or are delayed.

So why do managers not trust their data? There are a few main reasons:

  1. The most obvious answer is quite simply poor data quality – the data is either incorrect or inadequate.
  2. The data is correct, but irrelevant for the purpose. The IT organisations that are often responsible for delivering data believe that what they are serving is correct, relevant and strategic data, but in many cases the operation itself does not feel the same way. The organisation wants something else. There may also be cases were the data arrives too late to be relevant.
  3. The data is correct but the managers have difficulty finding it or gaining access to it, or it is only available in a format that is difficult to use.
  4. The data is correct but the managers do not have the knowhow and tools to understand it and to draw the appropriate conclusions based on the data.

So what should we do about it?

Such a situation is not very encouraging, and as long as it remains this way there are many decisions that should be taken that are not taken. Moreover, many decisions are taken but based on incorrect data. This is an unacceptable state of affairs. So what should we do about it? First and foremost, we must try to understand that there is no such thing as a quick-fix. We need to work long-term, with our eye fixed firmly on our goals, and with absolute determination, in order to slowly but surely improve the situation. Ensure that your organisation is characterised by patience and a systematic working method – this is an excellent foundation on which to build.

As we proceed with our solutions, we can identify many different improvement areas:

  • Modernise technology and methodology: Continue to modernise the IT landscape and infrastructure. Tools and methods are improving all the time, but many organisations stick with old solutions that are in need of refurbishment and modernisation. There is a certain degree of inertia owing to the heavy investments represented by already existing solutions, but I also note that right now there is immense willingness to invest in modernisation.
  • Communication and cooperation: This is an old hobbyhorse of mine and there have been marked improvements in this respect. Nonetheless, dedicated IT projects are still carried out with the aim of producing data for decision-makers. It is therefore hardly surprising that the operational team sometimes feels the results are incorrect or misaligned. Instead, let the operation play a more prominent role in Analytics initiatives.
  • Managers must take responsibility themselves. You get the data you deserve. Since the issue of data is so strategically important today, it is time to get properly involved. Everyone can do this, it’s about willingness and dedication. Work close to the Analytics teams, dig for data yourself, learn for yourself. Being able to read, understand, analyse and communicate data (in other words data literacy) is an increasingly important skill that virtually all managers need to master in today’s world. It’s not that complex – just jump in the deep end. You’ll soon find there’s an added bonus – you’ll develop into a better client for Analytics solutions since you will know more about what you actually want and need.

In the new research article entitled “The data-powered enterprise” that we co-authored you can read more about how to do just this in practical steps, and what to bear in mind as you proceed.

Read the article

Thomas Svahn

Thomas Svahn
Thomas Svahn has for many years served as senior advisor in the sphere of Analytics. Thomas has also participated in a wide range of Analytics-related academic research. In his everyday role he is Vice President, Head of Sweden at Capgemini Insights & Data, Sweden’s and Scandinavia’s leading specialist in Data, Analytics and AI.

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