Perception is not reality. 

That's the conclusion from new research released today by Iron Mountain and PwC, which shows a huge disconnect between how organizations think they use and manage their information and how they actually do.

Specifically, 75 percent of organizations think they have information governance under control and are making the most of their information assets. But only 4 percent actually are.

Sue Trombley, managing director of Thought Leadership at Iron Mountain, told CMSWire the solution is cultural: the current role of data analyst needs to morph into the much wider role of data strategist.

A data analyst is tasked with extracting value from information, but a data strategist also develops a strategy for the harvesting, use and management of data across the organization, she explained. Someone has to govern the use case for particular data, she continued.

But the newly released Iron Mountain/PWC Information Value Index shows the role of data analyst and the wider role of data strategist are still poorly understood in the enterprise.

  • Three out of four enterprises don’t employ a data analyst, and only a quarter of those that do are applying their skills to getting value out of their information
  • Three quarters of the organizations surveyed lacked the required skills, technical capabilities and culture to  exploit their information for competitive advantage
  •  Only 36 percent of respondents believe the drive to manage information for competitive advantage extends throughout the business

Who’s Exploiting Data?

The Index was built around a survey of 1,800 business of all sizes across the US and Europe. It aimed to assess how well organizations were using their data and how much value they were able to extract from it.

Based on a score of 100, where 100 was the best, the overall average was 50.1. The enterprise sector scored 52.5, while medium-sized businesses scored 48.8.

The take-away: at least half the companies surveyed are finding it difficult to extract value from their data.

North American organizations are more effective in their use of data than European organizations, scoring 56.7. The highest score in Europe (48.3) went to the Netherlands.

Given the growing dependence on big data sets, the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and ongoing public concerns about privacy issues related to personal information, the scores are surprisingly low.

Learning Opportunities

The Problem

Trombley said that the index has identified a large misguided majority — three in four businesses (76 percent) are either constrained by legacy, culture or regulatory data issues or simply lack any understanding of the potential value held by their data.

Many organizations just don’t have the in-house skills to exploit information. 

“The conversation around data for so long has been about risk, needing to protect privacy, need to get rid of records when possible so you are not exposed to liability, and basically just getting rid of what you don’t need. This still needs to be done because first and foremost you still have to protect your brand, and nothing will damage a brand like a data leak,” Trombley said.

Additionally, data analysts are hard to find. "It’s a question of supply and demand,” Trombley said.

There will be big expectations around value, security, strategy and technical abilities for the next generation of information managers, she said.

“It’s about these people stepping into roles that were traditionally about paper and is increasingly about digital information and who is going to manage it.”

New technologies — cloud computing, advanced capture technologies, social media —  and data problems associated with the mobile enterprise are changing the role of information management professionals and their job responsibilities.

The PwC/Iron Mountain index dovetails with research released last week from AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management), which was also underwritten by Iron Mountain. It concluded organizations need better data strategies to master a wider range of disciplines for effective data management.