Why are Irish firms not using their data better?

Urgent need for improved data utilisation across Irish businesses, from SMEs to corporations.

Irish businesses are sitting on hordes of data that could be put to better business use.

That’s according to a TEKenable survey, in collaboration with Microsoft, that reveals the urgent need for improved data utilisation across businesses, from SMEs to corporations.

“From SMEs to corporations, the imperative for improved data utilisation isn’t just a matter of growth – it’s about staying relevant in an increasingly customer-centric landscape”

This survey examined the understanding, challenges, and implementation of Customer 360 across diverse organisational landscapes. The survey involved 201 SMEs and corporations, with varying proportions across management levels and industries.

Know your customer, know yourself

The survey results illuminate nuanced perspectives between SMEs and corporations and disparities across management levels regarding the benefits of addressing challenges associated with the Customer 360 view.

SMEs, constituting 60%, exhibit a stronger belief in the significant contribution of Customer 360 to enhanced customer engagement while Corporations, at 40% are more skeptical, potentially influenced by the complexity and costs associated with implementing and maintaining Customer 360. 

Management levels further reveal varying degrees of recognition, with the C-Suite and senior management holding a more positive view than first-line managers, emphasising the need for comprehensive education and engagement strategies.

The types of data used in business also vary, the survey found.  SMEs predominantly used transactional data (27%,) less frequently employing behavioural (10%) and demographic (8%) data.  Contrastingly, corporations showed a more varied usage pattern, with behavioural data (20%) and demographic data (10%) being more prevalent. 

SMEs found Customer 360 most beneficial for financial decisions (77.8%) and service excellence (64.3%).  Customer 360 helped SMEs make more informed financial decisions by providing insights into customer behaviour, preferences, and spending patterns which helped to optimise pricing, marketing campaigns, and product offerings to improve profitability.  It also provided better customer service by providing a single view of each customer’s interactions with the company.

Corporations attributed significant impact to data-driven insights (63.2%) and campaign effectiveness (100%).  Customer 360 provided corporations with a wealth of data that was used to gain deep insights into customer behaviour, preferences and trends. 

It also helped them measure and optimise the effectiveness of marketing campaigns by providing data on customer engagement, conversion rates, and return on investment.

Barriers to adoption

Concern about the need to protect data is also acting as a barrier to the adoption of Customer 360 with 58.3% of SMEs seeing data security and compliance as the main challenge while 41.7% of corporations identify it as the primary obstacle.

The lack of a single customer view is a significant challenge for SMEs, with nearly half (43%) of respondents identifying it as their primary challenge. Corporations also find achieving a single customer view a significant challenge, with over half (57%) of respondents identifying it as a major issue. 

“From SMEs to corporations, the imperative for improved data utilisation isn’t just a matter of growth – it’s about staying relevant in an increasingly customer-centric landscape,” explains Nick Connors, Group CEO at TEKenable.

“While our research shows that investment in Customer 360 is rising, education and engagement strategies need attention.”

A further issue identified by the survey was a widespread inability to make data-driven decisions.  66.7% of SMEs say this was their main challenge, while 33.3% of corporations share this view.

Main image at top: Martina Naughton, Global Partner Sales Director, Microsoft Ireland; and Nick Connors, Group CEO, TEKenable

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.