The challenges of data analytics to support business decision making

ukwidesurveychallengesDespite the importance of data analytics and data mining (often known as ‘big data’) to business success, only a quarter (26%) of UK organisations have established a capability to use analytics to support most decision making, finds new research1 from specialist recruiter Robert Half Technology.

A further 40% have introduced an analytics function, but struggle to use this across the whole organisation. A quarter (24%) of IT directors said that they have the ability to access data to drive strategy, but have not yet implemented the process, while 8% do not collect data for analytical purposes, despite having the ability to do so.

The research is published as various studies demonstrate the potential value of data analytics to business growth. Yet when asked for Robert Half’s research how challenging the implementation of data analytics and mining initiatives have been, the vast majority (96%) of IT directors said that it had been either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very challenging’, with only the remaining 4% saying it had not been challenging at all.

The biggest barrier to the effective use of analytics within UK businesses is the lack of data available through existing resources, cited by 38% of respondents. This was followed by a lack of skilled professionals to implement analytics and mining systems, reported by 18% of IT directors, too much data / inability to identify the right data (17%), lack of executive / management support (17%) and lack of budget (9%). Data analytics is a key skill that is already in short supply, according to the The Robert Half 2014 Salary Guide for Technology Professionals 2.

The majority (95%) of IT directors say that their IT team’s workload has increased as a result . More than a quarter of these (28%) say that workload has increased by between 6% and 10%, while 23% report that workload has risen by between 11% and 20%.

Charlie Grubb, Associate Director, Robert Half Technology said: “Nobody can argue with the contention that data analytics will be one of the main engines of growth for UK businesses over the next decade and beyond. Leveraging insights from data allows organisations to understand what customers are buying and why, what new products should be launched and even why employees join or leave the business. Within financial services, businesses are drawing signals from social media and news networks to make trading decisions and even developing information sources to improve regulatory oversight.

“However, the right platforms need to be in place before those insights can be delivered and that means having the right skills available to the business. The shortage of skilled data professionals is leading to retention concerns and businesses are paying a premium to attract and retain these vital skills. Hiring a combination of permanent and contract employees to address rising workloads and business demands is an effective and efficient way to alleviate pressure and prevent employee burnout.”

The study was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 100 IT directors from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.

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