Sunday, 24th January 2021

Businesses embrace the data age

Research finds that business and consumer attitudes towards data use have shifted during the course of the pandemic.

Splunk Inc. has published new research in collaboration with Censuwide into European business and consumer attitudes towards data during the pandemic.

Key findings show that businesses have been spurred on to embrace the Data Age – while consumers have become more cautious, with raised expectations about how their data is handled:

  • The majority of businesses believe COVID has accelerated the use of data in operations
  • Confidence in IT infrastructure resilience has fallen sharpy
  • Consumers continue to raise their expectations for how businesses handle their data


The Data Age is here

Over three-quarters of businesses in France (79%) and the UK (77%) believe that COVID has accelerated the way they use data in their operations. There is further momentum behind this trend in Germany (64%) and the Netherlands (61%). Those surveyed also said the uptick in usage will help ensure future success with a majority of UK businesses (80%) saying it will help drive innovation with some improvement (82% in France, 68% in Germany and 80% in the Netherlands). On average, the vast majority of European businesses surveyed (90%) said visualising real-time data has helped them to make better decisions.

The impact of the global pandemic on the economy has made it clear to businesses that they need to embrace the Data Age to survive,” said Frederik Maris, vice president of EMEA, Splunk. “Developing a data strategy carefully tied to business objectives can improve the quality of decision making within an organization. This cannot only improve short-term performance but help differentiate a business from its competitors by allowing for a culture of innovation to develop based on data. However, this cannot be done in isolation. Businesses need to keep consumers and their data concerns front of mind if they are to succeed in the Data Age.”

Before the pandemic, responsibility for managing and utilising data was typically seen as the domain of the IT function – whether to combat security threats or avoid downtime – but it is now being viewed as a strategic company asset for planning and decision making. Three-quarters of European businesses said it was being used for more regular monitoring of performance metrics within the business (73%) and to examine customer data more closely (69%), while a similar number (72%) said it was now helping to plot trends in order to inform new business developments.


Solidifying the ‘Next Normal’

The research also shows that there is no room for complacency within the IT function itself and it needs to utilise data more to ensure the technology infrastructure it provides for services like remote working is always available. There has seen a sharp fall in confidence levels related to infrastructure resilience with a quarter of UK businesses surveyed (24%) saying they lacked confidence in their IT infrastructure during the pandemic, compared to only 7% before – a three-fold increase. Similar crises in confidence were seen across the continent – in France it dipped by 21%, the Netherlands 13% and in Germany by only 9%. With COVID highlighting previous weaknesses within the IT function, more needs to be done to harness the benefits of using data to manage increasingly complex IT environments.


Building Consumer Confidence

While the research highlights that businesses are embracing the Data Age to survive COVID disruption, it’s clear that the Data Age for consumers will be characterised by high standards regarding their data:

  • Banks are seen as a safe bet for sharing personal details. In the UK and France, when it comes to personal data such as their email, people are more likely to trust their bank (68%) than their partners (UK 60% and France 66%) or parents (UK 48% and France 58%).
  • British consumers are three times more likely to give their email address to a bank (68%) than to a company manufacturing smart (IoT) devices (19%).
  • Less than half of French consumers would tolerate a data breach by a business, whereas 60% of Brits and 66% of Germans would be more understanding, jumping to three quarters of Dutch people.
  • When given the choice of a more personalised service – like a news feed – over a free, generic service with non-targeted advertising, half of Brits (50%) would take the generic option. Only 16% would prefer a data-driven (personalised) service.
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