High-Growth Firms Make Better Strategic Use of Data, According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Survey

Apr 29, 2013, 12:15 ET from Wipro Technologies

ORLANDO, Florida and BANGALORE, India, April 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Research Also finds CFOs are Cautious About the Strategic Power of Data, But See Themselves Leading Data Initiatives

A new study by the Economist Intelligence Unit finds a relationship between the growth of corporate earnings and companies' use of data in strategic planning and decision-making. A survey of 318 C-level executives finds that while all companies are collecting more data than ever before, those from companies where average EBITDA growth over the past three financial years has exceeded 10% are more likely than their less rapidly growing peers to analyse various data sources they collect (eg 58% vs 43%, with reference to third-party data) and to consider themselves effective at extracting useful insights from this analysis (81% vs 57%). Furthermore, they are also far more likely to have to have changed the way they handle strategic decisions as a result of having more data (50% vs 36%), and to have seen improved strategic decision-making as a result of better data analysis (60% vs 38%).

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These are among the major findings of The data directive: How data is driving corporate strategy-and what still lies ahead, a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Wipro. The report seeks to examine the progress that executives have made in using information to transform their businesses. While highlighting some of the striking gains that are being achieved so far, it also uncovers how much work remains to be done in terms of making use of the transformational potential of data for business strategy.

"This research is a reflection of how organizations are leveraging data to sustain its competitive advantage for its products/services and be relevant in future. Leveraging the power of analytics, organizations can from prop up their key performance indicators -drive growth, enhance cost management and strengthen risk management," said K R Sanjiv, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Analytics and Information Management Services, Wipro Ltd.

Key findings of the main report include:

  • Data has proved most valuable so far for marketing leaders. From better ways to segment the customer base, to rethinking the ideal product mix in a retail store, marketing leaders are finding wide-ranging uses for their data to help improve how they market their company's wares. Already, 50% of chief marketing officers say they have tried and found a clear, positive difference in using data to improve their understanding of customers, as just one of a range of successful applications. This is a markedly higher proportion than their C-suite peers.
  • The financial services sector, technology companies, and professional services firms are most prepared for the data age. Three sectors stand out as being most prepared for the data age: the financial services sector (where 22% have a well-defined data management strategy in place); the technology industry (30%); and the professional services sector (40%). By contrast, such data management strategies are least often found amongst manufacturers (16%) and retailers (13%).
  • Businesses are stockpiling an ever-growing range of data and expect data gathering to continue to expand rapidly. Whether social media sentiment, machine-generated data via sensors, staff emails, market data or otherwise, firms of all shapes and sizes are now collecting more information than ever before. At least seven in ten companies collect syndicated third-party data, such as weather information (72%), or government data (70%), while many gather anything from internal staff data (66%) to some kind of location-based information (41%), among many other types. Two-thirds of business leaders say the range and types of data have expanded in the past two years, while about three-quarters expect this data stockpiling to expand yet further in the coming two years.
  • Working out which data matters most is the top challenge for firms. For companies seeking to gain more strategic insights from their data, many hurdles await. Whether organisational silos, a lack of skills, the usual disconnect between IT and the business, or worries over data quality, few consider the challenges and gaps easy to bridge. But clarity on which data matters most, amidst the data stockpiling now under way, is what tops the list of barriers, according to 40% of respondents. Furthermore, 34% of executives worry that the quality of their decisions is actually being impaired by data overload.
  • Many companies are unsure about the extent of data-fuelled strategic transformation within their business. While 68% of respondents think their strategy has improved in the past two years as a result of having more data, only 18% see a significant improvement in strategy, and few have found ways to use data to make a genuinely transformational shift in the business. Some 35% of executives agree that data has been more useful with operational choices and actions, rather than strategic ones. Just 22% disagree, while 41% are unsure.

A supplement to this report, The data directive: Focus on the CFO, is also released today. This paper drills down into the 62 responses to the survey by chief financial officers. The key findings of this supplement include:

  • CFOs identify improved scenario planning and forecasting as the key area where having more data has made the biggest positive difference to their role, identified by 40%. Furthermore, 34% have improved financial close management, and 32% have used data to bolster profitability.
  • CFOs are more cautious than their C-suite peers about the strategic insights data has delivered: just 24% believe that their company's strategic planning is highly data-driven compared to 35% of CEOs and 43% of CMOs. Similarly, whereas relatively high proportions of CEOs (48%), CIOs (40%) and CMOs (33%) believe that their company has changed the way they tackle strategic business decisions as a result of having more data, fewer CFOs (24%) believe this is the case.
  • CFOs are more likely than their C-suite peers to see themselves as leaders of data initiatives. When asked who currently takes the lead on data-related initiatives within the business, an equal proportion of CFOs (27%) flagged both themselves and their CIO. Their C-suite peers are more likely to cite the CIO as the natural point person on such initiatives, followed by a range of other corporate officers.

The data directive: How data is driving corporate strategy-and what still lies ahead, and The data directive: Focus on the CFO are available free of charge at:


About Wipro Ltd.

Wipro Ltd. (NYSE: WIT) is a leading Information Technology, Consulting and Outsourcing company that delivers solutions to enable its clients do business better. Wipro delivers winning business outcomes through its deep industry experience and a 360 degree view of "Business through Technology"; helping clients create successful and adaptive businesses. A company recognized globally for its comprehensive portfolio of services, a practitioner's approach to delivering innovation and an organization wide commitment to sustainability; Wipro has over 140,000 employees and clients across 54 countries. For more information, please visit http://www.wipro.com.

About the Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is the world's leading resource for economic and business research, forecasting and analysis. It provides accurate and impartial intelligence for companies, government agencies, financial institutions and academic organisations around the globe, inspiring business leaders to act with confidence since 1946. EIU products include its flagship Country Reports service, providing political and economic analysis for 195 countries, and a portfolio of subscription-based data and forecasting services. The company also undertakes bespoke research and analysis projects on individual markets and business sectors. More information is available at http://www.eiu.com or follow us on http://www.twitter.com/theeiu

The EIU is headquartered in London, UK, with offices in more than 40 cities and a network of some 650 country experts and analysts worldwide. It operates independently as the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, the leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs.

Forward-looking and Cautionary Statements

Certain statements in this release concerning our future growth prospects are forward-looking statements, which involve a number of risks, and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in such forward-looking statements. The risks and uncertainties relating to these statements include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties regarding fluctuations in our earnings, revenue and profits, our ability to generate and manage growth, intense competition in IT services, our ability to maintain our cost advantage, wage increases in India, our ability to attract and retain highly skilled professionals, time and cost overruns on fixed-price, fixed-time frame contracts, client concentration, restrictions on immigration, our ability to manage our international operations, reduced demand for technology in our key focus areas, disruptions in telecommunication networks, our ability to successfully complete and integrate potential acquisitions, liability for damages on our service contracts, the success of the companies in which we make strategic investments, withdrawal of fiscal governmental incentives, political instability, war, legal restrictions on raising capital or acquiring companies outside India, unauthorized use of our intellectual property, and general economic conditions affecting our business and industry. Additional risks that could affect our future operating results are more fully described in our filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. These filings are available at http://www.sec.gov. We may, from time to time, make additional written and oral forward-looking statements, including statements contained in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and our reports to shareholders. We do not undertake to update any forward-looking statement that may be made from time to time by us or on our behalf.

Media Contacts:

Wipro Ltd. Dirk Lewis Wipro Technologies +91-7760983976 dirk.lewis@wipro.com


Eric Belove Wipro Ltd. +1-732-216-6242 eric.belove@wipro.com


Rahul Kadavakolu Wipro Ltd. +44-(0)7920-205496 rahul.kadavakolu@wipro.com

The Economist Intelligence Unit David Line Managing Editor +852-2585-3873 davidline@economist.com

Joanne McKenna Press Liaison +44-(0)20-7576-8188 joannemckenna@eiu.com

SOURCE Wipro Technologies