Data-driven companies outperform peers financially, reveals Tableau-sponsored Economist Intelligence Unit survey

More than 80 percent of senior executives believe employees across their organizations should use and understand data

Publish Date: February 20, 2013 - 2:00pm

A new global survey of senior executives, Fostering a data-driven culture, finds that more than 80 percent of senior executives believe employees across their organizations can and should be using data to do their jobs. The study also finds a clear link between financial performance and the broad use of data by employees. Specifically, companies are more than three times more likely than average to rate themselves as substantially ahead in financial performance when they rate themselves as substantially ahead of their peers in their use of data.

Conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Tableau Software, the leader in rapid-fire business intelligence, the report finds that the data needs of different industry sectors and companies are diverse, yet the strategies used to exploit data fully are not. According to the survey results, the most successful companies are maximizing the use of data by providing necessary training and promoting the sharing of data across all levels of employees and departments.

The survey also provides guidance for executives who want to create a data-driven culture. Making data collection a central focus is one example. Data collection is cited as “very important/essential” to data culture by 76 percent of executives from top-performing companies compared with 41 percent from companies that lag their peers.

“Leading companies realize that being successful means giving people the opportunity to work with data,” said Elissa Fink, Chief Marketing Officer at Tableau Software. “Making data available and easy to use for all employees can transform an organization’s culture. It’s good for a company’s bottom line.”

Jerry O’Dwyer, a principal at Deloitte Consulting agrees that data democratization is a transformative idea. “There is more and more resistance to having everything funneled through IT,” said O’Dwyer. He adds that it would be foolish to attempt to empower every employee, but everyone should at least be given the opportunity to work with data.

Additional key survey insights:

•Data central to making informed decisions – When asked to rate the importance of data to different organizational units, 42 percent of respondents say data are “extremely important” to strategic decision-making.

•Creating and nurturing a data driven-culture – Half of respondents from top-performing-companies say that promotion of data sharing has helped generate a data-driven culture in their organization.

•The skills shortage – Data scientists will remain an essential part of many workforces, yet in a competitive job market the problem is recruiting and retaining those specialists. More than 75 percent say it is “somewhat” or “very” difficult to recruit and retain effective data analysts. Finding easy to use tools and applications will reduce that difficulty.

Interactive graphics of key survey findings and a free copy of the report are available at

About The Survey
The Economist Intelligence Unit survey of 530 senior executives around the world was conducted in October 2012. More than 40% of respondents are C-Level executives, including 23% from the CEO, president or managing director ranks and 9%, CIOs. Responses come from a wide range of regions: 50% North America, 15% Asia Pacific, 26% Western Europe and 9% Latin America. The range of company sizes is also diverse, from those with revenue of less than US$500m (53%) through to those with revenues of US$10bn or more (20%). The survey covers nearly all industries, including IT and technology (18%), financial services (17%), professional services (11%) and manufacturing (7%).

About The Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world leader in global business intelligence. It is the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist.. As the world's leading provider of country intelligence, the Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives make better business decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies. More information about the Economist Intelligence Unit can be found at or follow us on

About Tableau
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