The Big Priorities For Data Strategies

67% of data leaders cite ‘Data Value’ as their highest priority

A short while ago, we got to speak to some of the biggest names in data at the Big Data Innovation Summit. We asked attendees to rank their top priorities for their data use over the next year. Our survey results cemented some of our own experiences – namely that a data strategy really is a core foundation for every organisation.

The Big Data Innovation Summit is a conference dedicated to everything data. It attracts professionals from many industries (this year it took place alongside the Big Data and Analytics for Pharmaceuticals Summit), charities, and government bodies. The Predictive Analytics Summit also took place at the same time. Sessions offer real-world advice, introduce new tools, and present case studies on cutting-edge data techniques. Since it’s a good place to be if you’ve got an interest in data, we decided it was a great opportunity to uncover the priorities that major data players have today.

Our main findings

We’re going to take a deeper dive into some of the main points and focus areas in future blog posts. To whet your appetite for now, here are some of our key findings:


  • Getting value from data comes out on top across everyone surveyed, with 67% of respondents selecting ‘data value’ as their first or second priority.
  • Selecting the right technology and having the right team in place come in second and third for top priorities.
  • Frontline data professionals, who execute data projects and/or process data, place the most importance on getting the right technology.
  • Data leaders and board members placed the most emphasis on getting more value from data.
  • Finding the right data leader was the lowest priority (with only 5% of respondents ranking it), followed by data governance.


So what do these findings tell us?

First, that getting value from data is a challenge that most organisations are facing and making a top priority. It’s becoming a given that data holds value, but many companies still struggle to unlock it. Of course, having a well-thought-out data strategy is a good way to begin unlocking data value.

We can also see that technology and team play on the minds of many business leaders. Without the right skills or tech stack in place, executing any kind of data vision becomes impossible.

People who were more ‘hands-on’ with their data were more likely to prioritise their organisation’s tech stack. Which makes sense. They were the group who were most likely to suffer from legacy systems and/or poor tech investments.

Despite being critical to a data project’s success, having a strong data leader and good data governance didn’t rank well amongst survey members. This is surprising, as a data strategy doesn’t really work without someone to spearhead it and data governance to protect it. This will be especially true in the post-GDPR era. However, businesses overall are realising the importance of data leadership, with over 60% of organisations lacking a data leader hoping to appoint one in the next 2 years.

A data strategy meets all top priorities

The value of a well planned and executed data strategy is highlighted by the survey findings. Meeting all the top priorities is only possible with a coherent strategy that looks at data’s value, the data team, and tech stack.

Although the value of data has caught on with many professionals, the importance of a data leader and good governance is yet to be realised. As time goes on, this may very well change. The respondents of the survey were primarily data leaders themselves, which might go some way in explaining why they didn’t rank recruiting other leadership as a priority. It’s also seen as a costly endeavour that may be out of reach for many organisations.

Over the next few months, it will be interesting to see whether some of these priorities change and whether we receive the same results next year. One thing is certain, our survey says that in 2018 data is being asked to prove its worth.

Jason Foster – Founder & CEO

For more insights into building a data strategy, make sure to download our Data Strategy whitepaper.