Seizing The Information Advantage - Executive Summary

Topics: Information Management: New Thinking

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How organizations can unlock value and insight from the information they hold
A PwC report in conjunction with Iron Mountain

Executive summary

Information is the driving force behind every business. Over the course of the last 20 years, the information landscape has transformed beyond all recognition. The type, format, velocity and volume of information have grown exponentially and continue to grow.

There is a clear business need to unlock the value tied up in information. To do so, businesses must foster a culture that supports the development of a long-term information strategy and embraces a comprehensive governance framework. The need becomes even more apparent as business units take direct ownership of assessing how to make information work for them by using innovative technologies.

Many organizations are confident that they have the capability to extract value from their information for commercial and operational advantage. Our analysis shows, however, that this confidence is largely misplaced. Close scrutiny of interviews conducted with 1800 senior business leaders shows that very few are able to mine information to its full potential, and fewer still can make the most of the benefits that accumulate as a result.

Our research also found that most organizations lack the required skills, technical capabilities and culture to truly gain the greatest advantage from their information. In fact, three in four businesses extract little or no advantage whatsoever. We uncovered a consistent lack of focus when it comes to organizational investment in the right analytical talent, tools, innovative information-led solutions and value-driven information strategies.

In our view, it is imperative that a focus on information value goes hand in hand with a robust and continued emphasis on information risk. It should be seen as a business priority that risk and value work in tandem, striking a balance between the need to protect information and extract the value that resides within it. We found that the more forward-thinking, agile businesses already reap a multitude of benefits from placing as much emphasis on information exploitation as they do on avoiding data breaches and meeting compliance requirements.

Furthermore, in order to realize the information advantage, businesses must be prepared to share their information across the organization while being aware of privacy and intellectual property protection requirements. Our research shows that information is often caught up in departmental silos where its true value potential is not realised. There is a significant need for businesses to make information accessible to those with the necessary skills and tools to harness its value. Our respondents indicate that IT professionals are currently leading the way on this, most likely because they have the tools and access to the data. However, it is our view that the extraction of value should be led by a clear business need that is communicated to analysts with the appropriate technical skills and tools to investigate company data, interpret the findings and inform decision makers on the implications.

Very few organizations, as yet, understand how to exploit their information to its greatest advantage. Although it is relatively early days, and there is still time to catch up, it is our view that organizations that do not pay attention and do not seek to maximize the potential of their information, risk eroding their value in the future.

Key Findings of The Study

Where information is concerned, the rate of growth in the opportunities appears to be outstripping the ability of organizations to capture them.

Claire Reid
Partner
PwC – Risk & Assurance

  • Our first Information Value Index, based on the attitudes and practices of 1,650 businesses, large and small, in Europe and North America, produced an overall score of 50.1 out of an ideal 100. The enterprise sector, scoring 52.6, performs only slightly better than the mid-market (48.8). This is a disappointing, though perhaps not unexpected result.
  • Businesses across all sectors are falling short of realizing the information advantage – from the best (financial services, scoring 52.5) to the worst performing (legal services 47.0).
  • North America is ahead of Europe, with the USA out in front (56.7). The Netherlands is the best performing country in the European markets surveyed (48.3) and Spain the lowest scoring (46.6).
  • Just 4% fall into the ‘information elite’ category scoring over 90.0 in the index. The information elite have well-established information governance insight bodies, strong value realization cultures and allow secure access to those with the necessary skills. This minority of businesses are attaining a range of commercial and operational benefits as a direct result of their strong focus on information value.
  • We have identified a large ‘misguided majority’ – three in four businesses (76%) that are either constrained by legacy, culture, regulatory data issues or simply lack any understanding of the potential value held by their information. They have little comprehension of the commercial benefits to be gained and have therefore not made the investment required to obtain the information advantage.

Most organizations lack the required skills, technical capabilities and culture to truly exploit their information for an advantage.

Sue Trombley
Management Director of
Thought Leadership
Iron Mountain

Learn From The Elite

Most businesses can learn from the good practices exhibited by the information elite, in particular:

  • Get your governance right – set up an information governance oversight body, supported by senior leadership. Involve all of the key functional areas, not just IT.
  • Treat information as a valuable asset and develop a culture of evidence-based decision making.
  • Protect sensitive and valuable information using robust controls, but make sure that those who need it can access the information securely.
  • Don’t rely on the ubiquitous technology of spreadsheets – use fit-for-purpose data analysis, interpretation and visualization tools to get the most from your data.
  • Employ data analysts who understand business strategy, know what to look for in the data, know how to look for it and can link their findings to your KPIs.

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