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February 22, 2023

We’re Leaving Data Potential on the Table, Salesforce Says

Despite the growth of data and the creation of better tools for manipulating and analyzing data, a majority of us are still failing to extract enough value from data, according to a new report from Salesforce. What we need to get us over the hump, the company says, is a focus on building data culture and “decision intelligence.”

While 80% of business leaders say data “is critical” to making business decisions today, many struggle to connect the dots and actually put data to use in a meaningful way, according to Salesforce’s Untapped Data Research survey of 10,000 individuals, which it released today.

For example, the survey found that only 33% of business leaders are using data to set pricing in-line with economic conditions, such as inflation, the report says. And when a company is launching into a new market, only 29% are using data to help create their strategy, Salesforce says in its new study, which can be accessed here.

Similarly, just a handful of survey respondents said they would use data to help shape their companies strategies when it comes to fulfilling their diversity and inclusion policies (19%) or to help shape their company’s climate policy (17%).

We lack the skills necessary to make us fully at east in the big data era, according to Salesforce. The Untapped Data study found that 41% of business leaders say they don’t understand data because it’s “too complex or not accessible enough.” Thirty-three percent say they lack the ability to generate insights from data, while 30% say they’re “overwhelmed” by the amount of data.

(Source; Salesforce Untapped Data Research survey)

The survey results show that there’s a large gap between what we believe data can do for our businesses, and what we’re actually getting out of the data and data-related investments, according to Francois Ajenstat, the chief product officer at Tableau, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2019.

“For the last two decades, companies have been told they can make better decisions if they simply invest in data and analytics,” Ajenstat writes in a blog post today. “Yet recent research published by Salesforce shows that the promise of these claims simply isn’t true.”

Part of the hold up is due to the need to overcome institutional momentum, Ajenstat says. We’ve had to move from the rigid corporate structures of the past, when generating a report that could be shared with others was the market of success, to the current situation, where the norm becomes self-service analytics that enables many more people to explore data, ask questions, and get answers.

But there’s still more work to do, Ajenstat says. To move the bar forward now, we need to make the leap from self-service analytics to actually impacting the business, or what he dubs “the decision era.”

“In this era, organizations know how to turn their data into insights, and their insights into actions,” Ajenstat writes. “People won’t need data in their title to be a data person, and data will be infused into the tools employees use every day. No more jumping applications, moving tabs, or switching programs. Success in this era will require decision intelligence.”

Related Items:

How to Build a Data-Driven Culture

The Union of Salesforce, Tableau Yields Hybrid ‘Business Science’

Why Investing in Your Team’s Data Culture Could Be the Most Important Money You Spend