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‘Data divide’ emerges during pandemic 

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Data from YouGov Survey finds data-driven organisations claim to have critical business advantages during the pandemic

Australian businesses that invested in data programs to help with changes triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic expect to perform better in the coming year than non-data driven companies, according to a new survey from You Gov, commissioned by Tableau Software.

The study found data-driven companies were not only more resilient and confident during the pandemic, but also far more prepared for future challenges as the country moves into recovery mode. More than 2,500 business leaders from across Asia Pacific and Japan took part in the study.

About 82 per cent of data-driven Australian companies believe they gained critical advantages during the pandemic as opposed to 30 per cent of non-data driven Australian companies who said the same. The benefits to businesses include more effective stakeholder communication (51 per cent), making faster strategic business decisions (49 per cent); making their business more agile (45 per cent) and increasing cross-team collaboration (42 per cent).

Worryingly, nearly a fifth of Australian companies (17 per cent) may be at risk of repeating mistakes made during the pandemic. This was most prevalent in non data-driven companies, those that do not value data and without analytic skills and programs in place for its employees, where lack of institutional learning  rose to 33 per cent (compared to 93 per cent of data-driven companies which said they had gained insight from their response to business challenges during the pandemic).

Being data-driven is also fuelling optimism in uncertain times as 70 per cent of data-driven companies in Australia are positive about the future health of their business in the next six months compared to  non data-driven companies (of which only 56 per cent are optimistic about their future business health and 22 per cent had a negative outlook).

Data-driven companies will continue to place importance on investment in data skills – 82 per cent of data-driven organisations are eager to increase or continue their existing level of investment over the next six months. However, 39 per cent of non-data driven organisations opted to either reduce or not invest in data skills at all.

Commenting on the gap in data skills investment, Associate Professor Hume Winzar, Department of Actuarial Studies and Business Analytics, Macquarie University, said increasingly it has become important for Australian knowledge workers to acquire data analytics and data visualisation skills. “There is a real need for future business leaders to be able to make decisions and communicate them effectively using well-honed analytical skills and learning skills. Future business leaders that don’t have these skills, or are reluctant to develop them, are at risk of being left behind,” he said.

A leader in real estate services in Australia and around the world, JLL (formerly Jones Lang LaSalle) has strongly committed to developing a data culture. This has meant having deploying data champions in every department enable decision making at all levels of the local business, said Fiona Gordon, Global Director BI Strategy, JLL.

“As we progress into the fourth industrial revolution of digital transformation, every leader is responsible for investing time and resources into uplifting the capability of their people. JLL dedicates time to build data skills through bespoke programs with curated content, taking teams from rookies to rockstars,” she said. “The strength of the data culture helps to build highly engaged teams, dedicated to driving change through actionable insights,”