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Big data skills gap holds back 76% of companies

More than three-quarters of UK companies are planning a big data project within the next 12 months, but 70% of c-level executives struggle to effectively up-skill employees, according to a MHR Analytics report.

The 300 c-level respondents also identified developing a company-wide data analytics strategy and managing business intelligence initiatives by individual department heads as analytical challenges. 

Marketing departments are leading the way on big data initiatives, with almost half (48%) of companies focusing their effort in that function, ahead of operations (39%) and HR (34%).

Just 39% of board members believe their customer data is very accurate and up-to-date, and only 42% are very confident their business is able to respond quickly to short term economic volatility and changing market conditions.

The perceived skills gap is further strengthened by a reported decline in B2B data, with a recent Dun & Bradstreet report revealing data quality has declined 10% year-on-year.

However, the importance of analytics investment remains a pertinent topic, with research predicting UK investment in analytics is set to double by 2020, while a separate Gartner report found B2B marketers vastly outspend their B2C peers on marketing analytics.

Nick Felton, director of MHR Analytics, said: "It is very encouraging to see big data being given priority in the boardroom, but our research highlights a worrying skills gap. Perhaps most worrying is that less than half of businesses say they are able to respond to short-term economic volatility.

“With the latest Supreme Court ruling on Brexit, it is clear that uncertainty is going to be the new business norm for the next 12 months and beyond. It is vital that investment in business intelligence tools is matched by training for employees.”