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July 12, 2016

CEO Survey Finds Data Distrust

George Leopold

Despite widespread corporate adoption of big data and analytics tools along with exponential advances in analytics technology, a new survey by respected consulting firm finds that only one-third of CEOs polled have a high level of trust in the accuracy of their data or the analytics tools used to crunch it.

In a recently released CEO study, KPMG International said 29 percent of the 400 U.S. chief executives it surveyed said they either have “limited distrust” or “actively distrust” their organization’s use of big data and analytics. More than three-quarters said they lack confidence in the quality of data used to make decisions.

Life sciences and banking CEOs expressed the highest degree of distrust in their data while technology firms expressed the highest degree of confidence, the survey found.

Meanwhile, only 31 percent said their organizations are leaders in data and analytics usage, KPMG reported. Part of the problem is the increasing pace of technological change: Fully 81 percent of chief executives said they are having trouble keeping up with new technologies.

Despite growing unease about data quality, more than half of CEOs said they are nevertheless using big data and analytics to develop new products or to attract new customers. Other leading analytics applications include improving financial reporting (54 percent) and, for mid-sized companies, managing risk (44 percent).

Indeed, CEOs cited data and analytics as a “top three investment priority over the next three years” as a way to leverage big data in developing new products and services while driving corporate efficiency. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said increasing data and analytics capabilities was an investment priority, trailing only new product development (29 percent) and cyber security (26 percent).

Other investment priorities include cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“The emergence of advanced [data and analytics] has changed the decision making approach for many organizations,” Wilds Ross, KPMG’s principal for data and analytics, noted in a statement. “CEOs need to be able to trust the process from the elemental data points to the analytical recommendations.”

Overall, many data-driven enterprises are just beginning to embrace big data to expand capabilities and leverage the broader possibilities of data analysis. Brad Fisher, KPMG’s data and analytics chief, added: “Analytics in the strategic planning process can use a lot more and sophisticated external data points for a more scientific look forward.”

While the banking sector has been relatively slow to embrace new technologies like analytics, other sectors such as global trading firms are taking a more proactive approach, according to the CEO survey. In one example, New York-based Active International told researchers it is developing a proprietary technology platform that includes “a suite of predictive and analytic capabilities for clients to forecast their media needs.”

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