Some of the biggest advances in Big Data and AI are focused on business transformation — or are they? According to the 2019 edition of NewVantage Partners Big Data and AI Executive Survey of 65 Fortune 1000 leading companies investments are increasing in Big Data and AI to boost business agility. The breakdowns are as follows:

  • Leading companies (91.6%) are increasing the pace of their Big Data and AI investments —
  • 75.0% citing fear of disruption from data-driven digital competitors;
  • 91.7% saying investment is required to transform into agile and competitive businesses;
  • 87.8% expressing urgency to invest. Investment in Big Data and AI is increasing,
  • 55% of firms investing greater than $50MM.
  • Leading companies are struggling with data-driven business transformation.
  • Companies are investing in Big Data and AI, but they are not seeing commensurate results.
  • Though 62.2% report measurable results from their Big Data and AI investments,
    • less than half say they are competing on data and analytics (47.6%),
    • have created a data-driven organization (31.0%),
    • or have forged a data culture (28.3%).
  • The implications are significant. Cultural challenges remain the biggest obstacle to business adoption.
  • Companies report (77.1%) that business adoption of Big Data and AI initiatives remains a major challenge.
  • Executives cite multiple factors (organizational alignment, agility, resistance),
    • with 95.0% stemming from cultural challenges (people and process),
    • and only 5.0% relating to technology.
  • If companies hope to transform, they must begin to address the cultural obstacles.

The Chief Data Officer role is evolving but ill-defined;

  • CDO’s may be ill-equipped Chief Data Officers are in place at 67.9% of the companies surveyed, but the role remains ill-defined with the consequence that CDO’s may be ill-equipped to address the challenges –
    • 38.2% of firms want an external change agent while
    • 32.4% want a company insider;
    • 48.1% see the CDO as having primary responsibility for data while
    • 28.4% see no single point of accountability;
    • 17.5% of executives view the CDO role as interim or unnecessary.

Most companies are still not data-driven, and won’t be anytime soon. Business adoption of Big Data and AI initiatives must be viewed through a long-term lens – as a process and a journey.

  • Only 31.0% of companies say they are data-driven.
  • This number has declined from 37.1% in 2017 and
  • 32.4% in 2018. We are headed the wrong direction.

Firms need to adopt a long-term approach, focusing on the complex cultural challenges as a starting point. The answers are both revealing and insightful.