The Data Gap – CMO’s Lack Data Capabilities Required to Meet Growth Targets

UK C-suite and CMO executives agree that data and analytics are vital to business growth yet lack the capabilities required to achieve their targets, according to Realise UNLIMITED research. 

The research, which surveyed over 80 C-suite execs with annual sales of at least £30 million, found over four-fifths of respondents (81.5%) agree data and analytics are crucial to growing their business. However, execs admitted they weren’t sure what good data and analytics looked like and remained at least two years away from achieving best-in-class capabilities. 


Data’s role in business growth 

The execs largely agreed their data and analytics functions were helping them to achieve their business targets. The research found that respondents’ data and analytics functions were helping their business achieve growth (85.1%), enable better business decision-making (86.4%) and drive tangible value (86.4%). 

The executives were also optimistic about their organisation’s use of data and analytics. For example, 95% believe they work with high-quality data and 88.9% think their data systems are integrated, scalable, functional and stable. While 86.4% believe their data and analytics function has improved significantly in the last five years and utilises advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques. 

However, only around one-quarter of the respondents (25.9%) strongly believed their data and analytics capability was ahead of other companies in their sector. While only 28.4% strongly agreed their organisation has a data-driven culture. 


Data capabilities restrict businesses’ growth targets 

Despite claiming data was crucial to their targets, many businesses don’t have the processes in place to achieve their goals. Around one in three execs (34.6%) strongly agreed that they know what best-in-class data and analytics looks like. While less than half of the respondents (46%) strongly agreed that their business has a clear data strategy in place. 

Furthermore, nearly four-fifths of execs (79.2%) believe it will take between two to five years for their organisation to achieve best-in-class data and analytics. And 7% of respondents claimed it would take longer than five years. 

Execs’ most significant challenge to maximising the value of their data and analytics is a lack of training (33.3% of respondents). That was closely followed by a lack of budget (32.1%), lacking awareness of what data can do (28.4%), and struggling to recruit and retain specialist staff (24.7%). Other issues raised include a lack of investment in analytics and insight (23.5%), data teams lacking business understanding (23.5%), poor internal communication (21%), data teams not working closely enough with business teams (17.3%) and having siloed data (17.3%). 


Who should be responsible for managing data? 

The research found that more than one in three businesses doesn’t currently have one board member primarily responsible for all data and analytics capabilities. Of those that do, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) remain primarily accountable. 

Nearly three in five organisations (59.1%) leave data capabilities to their CEO, compared to just 9.1% delegating responsibility to a Chief Data Officer. While a handful of businesses put their Chief Information Officer, Chief Marketing Officer or Chief Technology Officer (all 6.8%) in charge of managing data and analytics. 


Stephen Welch, Managing Director at Realise UNLIMITED said: “Our research highlights that while UK businesses are aware that data is critical to achieving their targets, they often lack the capability to truly harness the information they have. Collecting and storing vast amounts of data is all well and good, but businesses must look to solutions that help them truly understand their data.  

“For example, while the majority of respondents believe they have high-quality data and strong data systems, three-quarters of them also believe their competitors have better capabilities. That means they’re inevitably struggling to attract and retain customers and losing them to competitors. Therefore, organisations need to prioritise technologies that help them gain insight into their data and help them to establish a data-driven culture.”