It’s been a decade since companies have expanded their commitment and investments in big data and even AI. However, these investments have yielded mixed results, indicating organizations have a long way to go to become truly data-driven. That’s the crux of a new report released by New Vantage Partner’s annual survey (2021) on Big Data and AI business adoption, titled ‘The Journey to Becoming Data-Driven: A Progress Report in the State of Corporate Data Initiatives.’
The report clearly noted that while several companies have committed to data-driven transformation, executing the commitment has been a herculean task. For example, Less than 40% of the firms manage data as an asset, and just 24.4% have forged a data culture within their firms. Also less than a quarter of the firms have managed to create a data-driven organization. The report also points out that only a few companies have developed a well-articulated data strategy.
What is also noteworthy is that those firms that hired Chief Data Officers or CDO role, only 33.3% of the companies have confirmed that the CDO role is firmly established. Most believe, there is lack of clarity on responsibilities, focus and even reporting relationships that remains flux.
There’s also a cultural impediments in adoption of these technologies, according to the study. This comes largely from challenges in the areas of organizational alignment, business processes, change management, communication, people skill sets, and resistance or lack of understanding that enable change.
These results suggest that most companies continue to remain at a nascent stage in their transformation efforts, and it will take time for firms to realize the full potential from their investment efforts.
However, all is not all gloom and doom. The study researchers observe that AI investments are one potential bright spot, as companies appear to be progressing steadily in their adoption of AI initiatives. This year, 77.8% of companies report that AI capabilities are now deployed in widespread or limited production, up from 65.8% last year, with only 4.1% reporting no applications of AI in use. This represents steady progress. With overall investment levels in data and AI increasing, adoption of AI capabilities can be expected to continue.
Despite the many challenges companies are facing as they pursue efforts to become data-driven, eight out of 10 executives are hopeful for the future, expressing optimism about the outlook for data/AI within their firms. Within these companies, 91% reported that the pace of investment in data/AI continues to accelerate, another positive indicator.
At the same time, 45.4% said their companies are making progress on data/AI with full management support. Even in this most challenging of years, 91.6% of companies report that, while facing the headwinds of the Covid-19 epidemic, their companies would be spending the same or more on data and AI initiatives. And that’s a positive indicator.
Finally, leading companies have taken steps to establish a CDO function and appoint a Chief Data Officer. Although the role continues to evolve, companies appear to be committed to its success, with nearly two-thirds having a sitting executive in this role today.
To conclude, Big Data and AI still have a long way to go even though a gradual transition is happening for these technologies to get absorbed into the corporate mainstream. Those firms that continue to make progress and begin to show results from these investments will have transformed themselves to compete more effectively in today’s digital world. For the rest of them, it may be a hard won battle.