Using data to navigate an uncertain 2023

By Ed Thorne, General Manager, Europe at Dun & Bradstreet.

  • 1 year ago Posted in

The last few years have been challenging for many businesses with widespread uncertainty and unprecedented economic volatility. A global pandemic, the continued effects of climate change, and the ripple effect of the war in Ukraine have made it difficult for business leaders to predict what will happen next and plan for future success.

During these unpredictable times, data can be a vital tool for businesses navigating this unchartered territory. Having access to the right data is crucial for managing risk, identifying opportunities, and remaining competitive in today's rapidly evolving economy. An effective and consistent data strategy can help business leaders traverse the challenges of the current landscape by providing transparency and insight to inform business decisions.

So, how can businesses use data in 2023 to support future success?

Focus on data quality

With a seemingly bottomless pool of data available to businesses, coupled with a turbulent and complex environment, being confident that your data is reliable and of high-quality is key to effective decision-marking. Outdated or incorrect data can not only dilute the value or insights derived, but also lead to inaccurate predictions and poor strategic decisions. Having reliable data as a ‘north star’ is critical to survive and thrive in uncertain, changing times.

Businesses that have a clear data strategy and invest in improving the quality of data are often able to unlock the most valuable output. Even with the very real threat of recession in many markets, a recent survey found that 68% of data leaders are looking to increase data management investment in 2023. Creating a skilled team who is accountable for the organisation's data, coupled with the latest tools and technologies, can mean the difference between success and failure.

Adapt to regulatory change

As well as a focus on quality, the increasing amount of data also brings more regulation and scrutiny around data privacy and governance. There is more emphasis on areas such as the ethical use of data and the transfer of data between countries than ever before. It’s important for businesses, regardless of size or industry, to have a robust governance framework in place. Activities such as data collection and data processing must be managed in a way that complies with regulatory standards and prepares for the next set of legislation too. Failure to adhere to regulations has resulted in several high-profile fines and can be incredibly damaging to the reputation and future success of a business

A proactive approach is key to ensuring a business is compliant with all the relevant legislation across the markets they operate within. Staying up to date on regulatory requirements and reporting is crucial to protect a business’ reputation but also to maintain and earn the trust of clients, investors, and partners.

Know who you are doing business with

The sanctions imposed this year because of the war in Ukraine have shone a spotlight on the importance of having full visibility and in-depth data on the supply chain of a business. Going through the motions after onboarding a customer or supplier is simply no longer enough, and in many cases contrary to regulatory processes. It’s now essential to gain a transparent view using information such as beneficial ownership data, politically exposed persons (PEPs) and ESG credentials of any party you are doing business with.

Major supply chain disruption in recent years has also led to risk exposure where businesses are over-reliant on a small number of suppliers or have a supply chain focused on one specific geographical area. Data can be used to identify potential new suppliers and markets and help business leaders to manage risk and be able to adapt quickly when disruption does hit.

Improve effectiveness and cost efficiency

Data can also drive growth. Accurate, timely, and relevant customer data can be used to gain a greater understanding of customer needs and preferences and deliver more intelligent targeting. This is more important than ever in a recessionary environment when budgets are tight, and businesses are under a significant amount of pressure to get return on investment and manage costs. Data can help accelerate the sales cycle by providing insight on who is the right contact to call, when is the best time to call them, and the technology platforms they are using.

Data and analytics can also help to allocate and utilise resources in the most cost effective and efficient way to deliver maximum value to a business. Gaining access to information such as which clients are likely to pay on time, reliability of supply chains and customer segmentation can help to protect a business and support growth, whatever the economic conditions.

Partnerships with technology partners, third party data providers or analytical consultants, can also bring significant value to a business. Partnerships can be a valuable element of a successful data strategy, providing access to new and alternative data sources, emerging technology, increased automation and specialised expertise.

Without a robust data strategy, organisations risk falling behind more savvy competitors. Reliable and accurate data is now an essential tool for organizations who need to weather an uncertain economic environment and continue on a growth trajectory. It helps them adapt to changing market conditions, compete more effectively, and make faster, smarter decisions in an ever-changing, increasingly uncertain world.

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