Customer data is playing the leading role in advertising, with 79% of businesses believing it will become the driver of “most” sales decisions by the end of the decade.

However, 90% of businesses also feel they are missing a “sophisticated approach” to data management.  

The figures come from Experian’s global data management study, which analysed feedback from 1400 businesses across eight countries.

Those in the study believed getting a handle on customer data could spike sales by nearly a third (29%), with the majority of businesses (84%) adding that data is vital in forming their business strategy.

However, missing or incomplete data, outdated information, duplicates and inconsistencies are cited as common pitfalls, amounting to almost a quarter of customer data being off the mark.

“The way organisations perceive the value of data is maturing rapidly and this latest research reinforces that. The digitalisation of our world means that we are all now confronted by a sometimes overwhelming amount of data to manage,” said Boris Huard, managing director at Experian Data Quality.

The rise of the CDO

The upshot is that businesses are readying to equip themselves with talent needed to hone their approach to data use; 82% of companies are hiring for “data-centric” roles, spurring the rise of the ‘chief data officer’.

“It is encouraging that we are seeing a clear response with more and more appointments of ‘data champions’ who are entering organisations at board level and have the skill set to drive change and culture from the top,” added Huard.

“This is even more important in a digital world where data, processing and interconnectivity are everywhere, meaning poor data quality can have a profound impact.”

Data deluge

Nearly one in four (39%) of organisations surveyed claimed to be managing 50 or more contact databases, up from just one in ten (10%) last year.

On top of mountainous volumes, a ‘shift’ in channel use is also adding to the complexity of data management.

Three in four (75%) respondents claimed email is their most-used channel, but nearly as many (73%) highlighted inaccuracies in data as having an impact on their success with reaching consumers effectively.

“Not only does this impact revenue, businesses cite poor customer service, an inability to communicate with subscribers and unnecessary costs as common business problems caused by poor email data quality,” adds Experian.

A ‘single customer view’ is the aim of 97% of businesses, with increasing emphasis placed on using data to get to know customers as individuals, says the report, driven by the desire to gain increased “loyalty, sales and strategic decision-making”.