SHANGHAI: More than half of Chinese businesses are spending significant proportions of their revenues on digital but they are half as likely as the global average to consider they are effectively using the data they subsequently capture.

The 7th Annual Digital IQ Survey, from consulting firm PwC – released later this month – found that 56% of companies surveyed in China were spending more than 10% of their revenue on digital enterprise investments, particularly IT and marketing, while 10% were spending more than a fifth this way.

But they were less confident around their use of data as only 32% agreed/strongly agreed that they "effectively use the data they capture", compared with the global average of 65%.

That may be because they have not yet properly focused on that area. Respondents in China were far more likely to identify technology architecture and design as the most important digital skill (76% vs 40% overall).

Globally, however, companies are placing more importance on data analytics skills (46% vs 35% in China).

PwC said that companies in China saw location-aware data and mobile customer interaction data as most important to their competitiveness but added that they were perhaps not making adequate use of other and new sources of data.

It pointed to such areas as social media data, data from cloud-based applications and Internet of Things and sensor data, which, it suggested, "may provide greater value and competitive advantage".

The speed of technological change is a challenge for businesses worldwide and companies in China often prefer to outsource work here: 40% hired a third party to explore and act on high priority emerging and disruptive technology innovations, compared to 26% overall.

Globally, companies were three times more likely to use a dedicated innovation or lab group to explore high priority technology innovation, as compared to companies in China, PwC found.

Despite that, "Businesses in China have a huge opportunity to take the lead on the global stage when it comes to digital," said Scott Likens, PwC China Information and Analytics Leader.

"They have a solid investment in IT and a good foundation of digital skills which will provide an excellent platform for future development."

Data sourced from PwC; additional content by Warc staff