Data Skills Gap Threatens Business, Say Two Thirds of CEOs

Almost three quarters (71%) of CEOs across the UK and Ireland believe their business could be at risk from current blind spots in data access and skills, according to a new report.

The study, conducted by Domo, provider of the leading cloud-based operating system for business, polled more than 100 C-suite leaders on their opinions around data and digital transformation, and found that while the majority believe data could be a threat to the future of their business, there’s a stark demographic split. 84% of CEOs age 25-34 said it could be a risk, compared to just half of over 55s.

It also revealed that because of the rise of data, the traditional working day is all but dead for many CEOs, with a third now checking business analytics first thing in the morning and last thing before they go to bed. That peaks at 54% among 25-34 year olds but drops to just 5% for leaders over 45, who are much more fixed to their desk. 80% of these leaders prefer to wait until they are in the office to check in.

Commenting on the findings, Ian Tickle, SVP and General Manager of Domo EMEA said: “It is clear that younger CEOs have a very different attitude to data in comparison to their more established counterparts. They started their careers in the digital age and have embraced it to create a more flexible working routine, albeit while remaining wary of the consequences of stagnating and a failing to properly understand their data. There is a lot that leaders could learn from that mentality.”

Yet despite the higher percentage of younger CEOs who recognise the risk, the report found that data isn’t always part of their decision making process. While overall, most (80%) leaders base judgements on data and insights, a third aged 25-34 said they preferred gut feeling.

That dropped to just 10% among 35-44s and 5% for 45-54s, suggesting while the next generation may, on balance, be more technologically savvy, they are also more impulsive than their more experienced counterparts.

One thing that all CEOs do seem to agree on though, is that data is now a crucial part of their business operations, the way they lead their teams and their plans for the future. When asked what they plan to invest in most over the next five years, 26% said their focus would be on systems to help manage the wealth of data and analytics, with only cyber security and compliance ranked higher (33%).

A further 18% plan to invest most in recruiting employees with strong digital skills, while 17% will focus on digital training for their existing workforce.

Tickle added: “We’re constantly told that with digital transformation, every organisation is different and no one size fits all. But as the research shows, there is a lot of common ground, regardless of the size and sector of the business, or the CEO in charge.

“Among business leaders, there’s now a clear understanding that data is integral for the future of their organisation. They realise they need to evolve, adapt and invest to keep pace with their customers, and that means putting the right data in the hands of everyone to create efficient and curious organisations. It’s ensuring every employee is empowered to make decisions for today’s business and tomorrow. The issue though, is that many are still trying to make sense of it through traditional practices and approaches, and that’s the biggest change that needs to happen.

“In any growing business, CEOs need to become the digital leaders, ensuring the right training and tools to maximise every possible opportunity. It’s well within their grasp, especially when it comes to the little things like real time access, which many said would make their jobs easier, that technology can provide. It’s just a matter of actioning it sooner, rather than later to ensure the risk doesn’t become a reality.”

(Source: Domo EMEA)

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