Surveys and other data gathering means are in vogue these days. Organizational decision makers have discovered what a wealth of insight can be obtained from corporate-wide feedback. In addition, integrated IT solutions available from various vendors allow for systematic data gathering from all functional areas conveniently in one place. The times when offices created their own little databases which did not talk amongst themselves have slipped into oblivion (or at least, there is no good excuse not to).
The action plan is clear: let us put together surveys and invest lots of money in IT tools. After all, knowledge is power that we need so much under the given economic circumstances. And these data will give us power, right? Wrong.
Bits and pieces of raw data are not knowledge yet. They are information at best. Somebody must make sense of the collected data to render them useful for managerial decision making. Ineffective handling of the gathered data may prevent organizations from using this information for any practical purposes, for example, planning any interventions to improve organizational climate (see post Are organizations oversurveyed?).
Results of a survey carried out by Accenture explain the poor usage of the data in many organizations. Six hundred senior managers at more than 500 public and private sector organizations in the US and the UK were asked about the analytical capabilities in their organizations. More than a half of respondents admitted their organizations were structured in a way that prevented data and analytical talent from generating enterprise-wide insight. Thirty percent of the US respondents and 13 percent of their UK counterparts said that their organizations did not have any professionals dedicated to analytics.
According to Dave Rich, managing director of the Accenture Analytics Group , “organizations that fail to tackle the issues around data, technology and analytics talent will lose out to the high-performing 10 percent who have leveraged predictive analytics to become more agile and adaptive and gain competitive advantage.”
On a positive note, 71 percent of the survey respondents said their organization’s senior management was “totally” or “highly” committed to analytics and fact-based decision-making and in the long term, was planning to use analytics for modeling and predicting behaviours, actions and decisions.
While the good will of the senior management to base their decisions on data-driven analysis is promising, at the moment, the Accenture researchers had to conclude that organizations still rely heavily on ‘gut feel’ and ‘soft’ factors such as consultation with others, intuition and experience.