Key business information 'not used by majority of firms'

The vast majority of company information and business data being collected by firms is not being used properly, a new report finds...

Information management services company Iron Mountain's recent poll of 1,800 business leaders across sectors including energy, financial services, legal, manufacturing, engineering and healthcare in the US, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Holland and UK showed that two thirds of businesses are unable to extract the best value from their data, while a quarter are deriving no value at all.

This left just four per cent of companies who were found to be using their business information to the best effect. The remainder lacked the adequate tools and skills necessary to extract value from their data.

Some 43 per cent of the mid-sized and enterprise-level organizations surveyed said they obtained little tangible benefit from their information, and 23 percent derived no benefit whatsoever.

Iron Mountain used the findings to create an 'Information Value Index' measuring businesses' success rates in using information for competitive advantage.

On the index, North American firms scored 52.9 and European firms just 47.3, out of a possible 100.

The results confirmed that regardless of size, geography or sector, most businesses have a lot of work to do before they are able to fully realise their data's value.

In contrast, three quarters of business leaders in North America believe they are already making the most of their information, while 20 per cent of all businesses surveyed said they didn't employ any type of data analyst to manage their business information.

A further 20 per cent of firms did not know what information they held, how it was accumulated within the business, where it was most valuable to them or conversely, where it was most at risk, from a security perspective.

Industry analysts suggest that company information is among the most undervalued assets in the commercial world, with data regarding interaction with stakeholders the most highly-valued.

This type of data can provide market intelligence, customer insights, and opportunities for innovation as well as potential for profit, they say.

“Every company wants to use its information to operate and compete effectively, but most are restrained by a lack of skills, technical capabilities and a corporate culture," , Iron Mountain's managing director of thought leadership, Sue Trombley, commented.

The impact of these gaps can be felt at the highest levels of a business.

"Over 25 per cent of C-suite executives say they've yet to experience the benefits from information in terms of increased confidence in decision-making, more efficient product development, new customer acquisition or retention and cost savings.

"Managing information properly for competitive advantage is vital for any businesses' long-term success, and should be at the top of the company agenda,” she added.