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UK Businesses Bullish with Data Governance

In the world of data governance, the only certainty is uncertainty. Headline regulations such as GDPR have been keeping CEOs up at night since 25th May 2018. However, while all are bound by GDPR’s legislation - none are more scared of ICOs wielding their newfound power than biggest organisations.

Arguably these have more to lose, 55% of large companies said GDPR unequivocally dominated their data governance programmes. This contrasts heavily with 31% of respondents with smaller companies. With fines of up to 4% of global turnover - non-compliance could be business-ending.

UK data leaders dominated by GDPR

Preparing for GDPR has been a millstone around the neck for many companies. Recent research has found GDPR has delayed UK organisations’ data initiatives by an average of 480 days, well over a year. Given this delay, it’s important to ask whether burgeoning data regulation has hampered the UK’s ability to truly innovate with data and continue its leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

According to the latest research, GDPR is still dominating the data governance agenda across the board for many UK data leaders. Over the past two years, the prioritisation of GDPR has only decreased in emphasis by 5% - from 45% in 2017 to 40% in 2018. With over two thirds of data leaders’ resources being pumped into coping with GDPR requirements, what else is being achieved? Clearly, UK data leaders need to appeal for additional resources and capabilities to solve the GDPR issue and move on with gaining valuable business insights from data.

However, in the face of difficulties, confidence is high. Many large companies have an optimistic viewpoint despite the delays and heavy focus on regulations. Just 10% of UK business leaders maintained there was no impact at all from GDPR on them. We will need to see whether this number increases in the coming year as the GDPR hype dies down and normalises.

The tech to comply

Yesterday’s ‘nice-to-have’ tech is today’s table stakes. As UK data leaders struggle to wrangle organisational data from a governance perspective, they also have to keep an eye on how this data will be used to benefit the business.

Data is no use without insight. With GDPR work continuing at pace this cannot come soon enough. What are the technologies that will power the UK’s businesses into the future? Topping everything, 44% of UK data leaders said future value will be maximised by filling skill gaps in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). This contrasts with just 34% and 24% of data leaders currently using ML and AI respectively. Leaders recognise it’s no longer enough to collect data, you need to put it to work and sweat it harder than anyone else’s. When there is more data than can possibly be looked at by a human being, ML and AI are the must-have items for remaining competitive and the right side of the line on data regulations.

However, this is only half the picture. There is more to it than just owning the tech. Organisations have their data and should now be turn their attention to adding visibility. 66% of UK data leaders complained that an inability to explain the business impact of insights is keeping them from achieving their business goals. Complementing technical skills with business skills, essential for data governance, might be where SMEs are missing out. UK data leaders in larger organisations are 8% more likely to prioritise story-telling than in SMEs. This gives them a leg up not just in addressing GDPR but in driving their businesses forward.

Batten down the hatches

Businesses should be ready to weather any storm blowing their way need to tool up with the latest tech but without forgetting those essential skills, both those needed for making use of the new tech but also for making sense of the results. Without knowing what’s around the next bend in the road, it could pay dividends to have the best staff on your side and the best talent want to work for leaders, not laggards.

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