Businesses in the US and UK are losing money because of a failure to share data internally and because of bad data, new research claims.

A study from Dun and Bradstreet, The Past, Present and Future of Data, surveyed over 500 business decision makers in the US and UK, and found that almost 20% of businesses had lost a customer because of incomplete or inaccurate information about them, while another 15% admitted they had failed to sign a new contract with a customer for the same reason.

Almost a quarter (22%) of UK respondents said financial forecasts have been inaccurate, and 18% of US and UK companies had offered too much credit to a customer because of incomplete information about them, and they had lost money as a result.

The report also found stark differences in the attitude to data in each country, with compliance a much greater concern in the UK than the US (31% vs. 16%). This, researchers pointed out, is highly likely to be a reflection of the need for businesses to comply with the GDPR. Over 10% of businesses say they have been fined for breaching data rules.

Another significant barrier businesses face is the way data is organised; it is frequently poorly structured, making it hard to assess and often making it out of date. Almost half (46%) said data was not shared sufficiently to maximise its use.

The biggest challenges to interpreting data usefully were:
  • protecting data privacy (34%)
  • having accurate data (25%)
  • and analysing/processing that data (23%).
The lack of a discernible structure may reflect the fact that four in ten businesses have no-one in their organisation responsible for data management. And that absence of ownership may also be why 52% of business leaders said they do not have the budget to implement data management practices.

“Businesses must make data governance and stewardship a priority,” said Monica Richter, Chief Data Officer, Dun & Bradstreet.

“Whether leaders are exploring AI or predictive analytics, clean, defined data is key to the success of any programme and essential for mitigating risk and growing the business,” she added.

The report does reveal, however, that there is growing awareness that responsibility for data and its use should be a C-suite priority, and 68% of respondents say data will be essential to their organisation’s future success.

Sourced from Dun & Bradstreet; additional content by WARC staff