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The data ‘downfall’

Shawn Cumberbatch

The data ‘downfall’

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Inadequate data is hitting Barbadian businesses where it hurts most – their profits and revenues.

That’s the major finding of a new study local economics and business advisory firm Antilles Economics released last week.

Antilles managing director Stacia Howard said after conducting its first Survey Of Use Of Data In Barbadian Organisations: The Relationship Between Data Practices And Financial Performance in the second quarter, the findings suggested that data failings “have a bottom-line impact and that improving access to and usage of data can improve our performance”.

“We asked participants a number of questions regarding the systems and processes they used to disseminate and analyse data in order to gain insight into the level of difficulty users would encounter when trying to access data.

Generally, users throughout the organisation have access to company data, suggesting that the some technological resources may be in place,” she said in the first in the series of analyses on the survey.

“At the same time, however, fewer organisations admitted to having business intelligence solutions or dedicated persons/teams analysing either company or external data.

This suggests that companies have not yet placed data analysis at a high enough priority to warrant dedicated analysts or more complex systems, despite the fact that 53 per cent of respondents stated that data collection is a high priority within their organisation.

“Probably due to this disconnect, it is not clear from the data whether companies with more sophisticated data systems recorded better financial performances than those with simpler systems. It does seem, however, that organisations with basic systems fare worse, with 67 per cent reporting lower revenue in 2013.”

Howard said survey respondents were generally in favour of improving data access and availability and that “all respondents believed that databases are necessary expenses and almost two-thirds agreed that not only senior management needed to use external information”.

“Furthermore, 56 per cent and 61 per cent of respondents, respectively, are willing to pay to access better data and gain greater insights from available data.

“The companies that reported the most positive results for data sharing also generally reported the best revenue results in 2013, while those that were the most negative reported lower revenue in 2013.

“This result confirmed our expectations since we assumed that those companies that ensured data was available to decision-makers at all levels of the organisation would perform better,” she said.

The Antilles boss said “looking forward, companies should focus on upgrading their data collection, storage and dissemination systems and processes as well as addressing talent gaps”.