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Data maturity: key to SME growth and sustainability

Are SMEs missing out on growth, innovation and sustainability opportunities due to a lack of data maturity? HPE survey reveals only 13% link data strategy to corporate strategy

A new global survey by HPE reveals that a lack of data maturity is hindering organizations from achieving key outcomes such as growing sales and advancing environmental sustainability. The survey, conducted by YouGov, gathered responses from more than 8,600 decision makers from across industries and the public sector in 19 countries.

The results show that the average organization’s data maturity level, or ability to create value from data, is 2.6 on a five-point scale, with only three percent reaching the highest maturity level.

The survey also found that the lack of data capabilities limits organizations’ ability to create key outcomes such as:

  • growing sales (30%)

  • innovating (28%)

  • advancing customer experience (24%)

  • improving environmental sustainability (21%)

  • increasing internal efficiency (21%)

It also revealed that only 13% of respondents say that their organization’s data strategy is a key part of their corporate strategy and almost half of respondents say their organization allocates either no budget for data initiatives (28%) or only occasionally funds data initiatives via the IT budget (20%).

SMEs struggle with digitization is even worse!

In our opinion, the situation is even worse at the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) level. SMEs tend to have fewer resources and less expertise compared to larger organizations, which makes it harder for them to effectively leverage data as a strategic asset. Additionally, SMEs often lack the budget and internal infrastructure to invest in data maturity, which hinders their ability to innovate, grow sales and improve customer experience.

Additionally, most SMEs rely on manual data gathering methods, such as excel sheets, which is be time-consuming, prone to errors and do not provide the flexibility and scalability needed to generate insights and make data-driven decisions. Furthermore, many SMEs struggle to integrate data from multiple systems and APIs, which leads to siloed data and difficulty in combining data for analytics and data point of view. Machine learning is often out of reach for SMEs due to lack of expertise and resources. These issues further impede SMEs from achieving data maturity and creating value from their data.

Furthermore, SMEs are also more likely to face challenges when it comes to data governance and security. They may not have the same level of security measures or compliance requirements as larger organizations and therefore, data breaches and data leaks are more likely to occur, which leads to reputational damage and financial loss.

In conclusion, SMEs are at a greater disadvantage when it comes to data maturity and creating value from data. They need to find ways to overcome the challenges they face and invest in data capabilities in order to stay competitive and achieve key outcomes. This includes forming partnerships with larger organizations and tech companies, investing in training and exploring cost-effective solutions for data governance and security.

Steps SMEs should take to become data-aware businesses and embrace the future

Assess your current data capabilities

Understand the current state of your data maturity, identify the gaps and challenges you face and set clear goals for what you want to achieve with your data.

Develop a data strategy

Create a comprehensive data strategy that aligns with your business goals and objectives. This strategy should outline the steps you will take to improve your data capabilities, including data governance, data security and data analytics.

Invest in technology

Invest in the right technology to support your data capabilities. This may include data storage and management solutions, data analytics tools and machine learning platforms. Consider cloud-based solutions that are cost-effective and easy to scale.

Build a data-savvy team

Build a team with the necessary skills and expertise to handle your data needs. This may include data analysts, data engineers and data scientists. Provide training and development opportunities to help your team members stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies.

Leverage partnerships and external resources

Form partnerships with larger organizations, tech companies and consultancies to leverage their expertise and resources. This includes data analytics, machine learning and AI services.

Implement governance and security measures

Ensure that your data governance and security measures are in place to protect your data and comply with any regulatory requirements.

Use data to drive decision making

Start using data to drive decision-making in your business. Use data analytics to gain insights, identify trends and make data-driven decisions.

Continuously monitor and improve

Continuously monitor your data capabilities and make improvements as needed. This will help you stay competitive and achieve your desired outcomes.

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