Survey Says More Decisions, Complexity and Data Drive Business Challenges

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 KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Constant and compounding increases in the volume of data coupled with daily decisions are driving significant business priority changes, according to the fifth annual survey of executives at large corporations by Teradata, a division of NCR Corp.

The results of survey, which included 1,200 international executives at large corporations, were released Sept. 18 at the 20th Teradata Partners User Group Conference and Expo here.

"The survey results have wide-ranging implications for how organizations will operate in the years ahead," said Bob Fair, vice president and chief marketing officer of Dayton, OH-based Teradata.

Mr. Fair, who spoke at a media luncheon at the Walt Disney World Dolphin hotel, said this year executives participating in the survey put customer loyalty as the highest risk on a list of the top five casualties of poor decision-making. Profits moved to number three, after four years as number one, he added.

"We think this shows greater recognition of the importance of using analytics to differentiate from competitors by better serving customers," Mr. Fair said. "If I do a better job with customers than my competitors, I win."

The importance of real-time information is a five-year trend, and this year, 85 percent of respondents said that decision-makers need more up-to-date information than in the past, up from 71 percent last year.

According to almost 40 percent of respondents, front-line staff is increasingly making critical business decisions. In addition, more than 40 percent of respondents said C-suite executives -- such as chief operating officers, chief financial officers, chief information officers and chief marketing officers -- are more involved in strategic corporate decision-making than five years ago.

The findings support what Teradata calls active enterprise intelligence, Mr. Fair said.

"Companies can now use their enterprise data warehouses to support both strategic and operational intelligence and ensure that the entire organization consistently executes against strategy," Mr. Fair said. "The result is better, smarter decisions for competitive advantage."

Two-thirds of responding executives said their companies use data warehousing. Fifty-Four percent said their companies' vision is to move to centralized enterprise data warehousing.

"However, 69 percent of Teradata customers, often cited as the most innovative leaders in the use of technology, are moving toward enterprise data warehousing, putting them well ahead of this finding," Mr. Fair said.

More than two-thirds or 68 percent of the executives surveyed said that the number of daily decisions has increased over last year. For five consecutive years, Teradata's surveys have found that the increase in data is compounding, with 96 percent to 100 percent of respondents saying data is increasing. More than half said data is doubling or tripling over the previous year, and 97 percent said that decisions remain complex.

"Executives from Asia Pacific organizations were twice as likely to cite business growth as the cause of the increases in data and decisions, compared to respondents from the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa," Mr. Fair said. "This reflects the booming economic environment in the Asia Pacific region, where competition is growing as consumers become more discerning and have greater choice for products and services."

Other findings, according to the survey include:

  • The top uses of data warehousing are improving customer service and financial performance management.
  • The top five casualties of poor decision-making are customer loyalty, company reputation among customers, profits, company productivity and customer service.
  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents from the Americas, EMEA and more than half of those from Asia Pacific said that they don't have access to dashboards. (A dashboard is a user interface, which resembles an automobile's dashboard, that organizes and presents information). Those who do said they are getting value, but 54 percent said that dashboards don't give them all of the information they need.

The Teradata study was fielded by BuzzBack online market research in June-July 2006, querying 1,171 executives from 23 countries - 56 percent from the Americas, 23 percent from Asia Pacific and 21 percent from EMEA. Eighty-four percent are senior executives up to "C-suite" titles. Sixty percent are with companies that have annual revenue of $1 billion or higher. A broad range of industries and functional departments were represented in the random sample of executives. Some of the respondents were Teradata customers.

Mr. Fair said a new area Teradata asked about this year is unstructured data, or data that doesn't have a consistent data structure or format that is easily analyzed by databases. Examples, Mr. Fair said, include word documents, e-mail exchanges, and call center notes.

According to the survey, 70 percent of respondents from the Americas and Asia Pacific regions said that using unstructured data could be a competitive advantage, compared to 36 percent of respondents from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"Our own view is that there is a lot of opportunity here with unstructured data," Mr. Fair said. "We think the most important issue here is how do you convert the unstructured data into structured data and add it to the rest of the structured data."

Melissa Campanelli is a guest of Teradata at the conference.

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