The ‘Data for Humanity’ report, commissioned by Lenovo, polled 600 senior executives in organizations with revenues of $500 million or more across five countries to explore how the world’s largest businesses are harnessing data, and where they see opportunities to use it to meet their goals and draw an advantage in a competitive landscape. Around 70% of organizations say they are already using their data to achieve a mix of ESG and financial goals – but there is scope to go much further.
Organizations face a confluence of crises – which will impact their business and wider society – but less than half are taking actions to address the most pressing challenges.
Executives believe that data will play a fundamental role in alleviating global crises, as well as in driving stronger business performance. Lenovo research shows that over half of businesses plan to increase their investment in data storage and AI tools over the next few years to boost their data strategy and execution.
Are you a Data Leader?
Data Leaders are an elite group identified through the research that have enacted successful strategies across three key pillars of Data Management, Data Analytics and Data Security, enabling them to use data more effectively across business functions. Data Leaders make up only 15% of the sample, and Data Followers make up 37% of the sample.
Over the next three years, the Data Leaders are more likely than the Data Followers to be taking action against the energy crisis (60% of Leaders vs 33% of Followers), poor healthcare (29% of Leaders vs 18% of Followers), poor education (61% of Leaders vs 25% of Followers), and global warming (34% of Leaders vs 29% of Followers). They also better understand the importance of data in solving these challenges, and their most effective use of data is in progressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives (96%). In contrast, only a minority (41%) of Data Followers say they are effective here.
Become a Data Leader
Despite just a minority falling into the Data Leaders category, the key pillars of Data Management, Data Analytics and Data Security feature prominently in all organizations’ future plans. Business leaders state that over the next five years, they are most likely to invest in:
- Cybersecurity tools (59%)
- Artificial intelligence (AI) tools (58%)
- Data analytics tools (57%)
- Data storage (55%)
Other aspects seen as vital to extracting data capabilities include increasing automation of data management and/or analysis (89%) and improving the use of different types of data, such as external and unstructured data (88%).
Businesses clearly want to do more with data and are beginning to enact plans to be able to achieve this. But a limited data-driven culture may be holding some of them back.
Most business leaders are looking internally to implement data strategies that include plans to upskill employees on how to use data effectively (89%) and train them to analyze and manage data (88%). Appointing a single role responsible for improving the integration and use of data, such as a Chief Data Officer, is also regarded as important (90%), although only a fifth (21%) state that they have already done this. But most business leaders agree that embedding a data-centered culture throughout their organization will be one of the most important elements in their data strategy over the next few years (88%).
Results by Country
The data comes from a survey of 600 C-suite executives and those reporting directly to C-suite. It was commissioned by Lenovo and conducted by FT Longitude in September 2022.
The respondents represent a range of industries: transportation and logistics, business services, technology, media and telecoms, real estate and construction, pharma, medical and biotech, hospitality and leisure, industrial and chemicals, financial services, energy, mining or utilities, consumer and retail.
They represent five countries: France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Fifty-five percent of the organizations surveyed had revenues of $500 million–$1.99 billion; 30% had revenues of $2 billion–$4.99 billion; and 15% had revenues of $5 billion or more.