IDG’s 2021 Data & Analytics Study reveals organizations are researching AI, prescriptive analytics, machine learning & more for future investments

Boston, Mass. – July 13, 2021 – IDG Communications, Inc. – the world’s leading tech media, data, and marketing services company – releases the 2021 IDG Data & Analytics Study, which outlines organizations’ data-driven initiatives, challenges, goals, investments, and vendor expectations. Data and analytics efforts have been lauded for their problem solving and predictive capabilities. That appreciation is not lost on IT decision-makers (ITDMs) as 64% agree that the collection & analysis of data has already fundamentally changed the way their company does business.

Data-Driven Projects are Accelerating
Data and analytics projects are being fast-tracked. The majority of ITDMs (86%) have either already deployed or have data-driven projects on their tech roadmaps – which is up from 68% in the 2016 version of the study. This also varies by company size, with enterprise organizations (those with 1,000+ employees) further along on their data-driven journey (93%) compared to 81% of SMBs. The past year has played a significant role in the rise and adoption as 61% of ITDMs agree that the pandemic accelerated their data-driven strategy.

For companies that have no future data-driven plans, the top barriers include lack of a clearly articulated data strategy, lack of budget/funding for data initiatives, and lack of executive buy-in or advocacy for data initiatives. Even when data-driven initiatives are on organization’s technology roadmaps, there is still work to be done. Currently, only 46% say their organization has a clearly defined and communicated data and analytics strategy. When asked what challenges did or will inhibit their organization’s progress with data-driven projects, 44% stated a lack of a clearly articulated data strategy, followed by lack of data science and machine learning expertise (36%), and lack of data analytics skills (35%).

“Done right, data and analytics initiatives have the power to deliver essential insights businesses need to navigate challenges or identify opportunities,” says Eric Knorr, Editor in Chief, IDG Communications, Inc. “The tools available today are better than ever, but organizations must have clearly defined goals and consider establishing analytics centers of excellence to ensure their initiatives succeed.”

Data & Analytics Goals and Investments
The study found a variety of objectives fueling data-driven investments. By implementing these tools and solutions, organizations hope to improve internal business processes (49%), customer insight and engagement (47%), customer service/support (45%), existing products (38%), and IT operations (35%). Survey respondents also noted that they have been able to introduce brand new revenue opportunities over the past three years due to data and analytics (55%).

To advance these objectives, organizations will invest an average of $11 million on data-driven initiatives over the next 12 months. IT budget allocations are strong, with 41% of ITDMs anticipating a budget increase over the next 12-18 months, 40% expecting budgets to remain steady, and only 2% expecting a decrease. To put this budget into action, ITDMs are actively researching artificial intelligence (34%), prescriptive analytics (30%), machine learning (30%), predictive analytics (27%), and edge computing (26%). These will add to the tools currently in use which include visual dashboards (53%), data visualization (52%), data application/integration (51%), business intelligence (51%), and data quality tools (44%).

“IT and business leaders have constant pressure to advance their roadmap and remain competitive,” says Sue Yanovitch, VP of Marketing, IDG Communications, Inc. “With the ability to introduce new revenue opportunities and potential to fundamentally change how businesses operate, data and analytics solutions will likely be the backbone of many organizational decisions throughout the upcoming years.”

Drivers Behind a Data Strategy & Vendor Expectations
Building out a data-driven strategy and ultimately implementing the solutions is a team sport where business and IT leaders must work together. According to the research, the CIO, CEO, CTO, Chief Data Officer, CFO, and IT staff are the most involved in data-driven decisions. When looking into the functions associated with data adoption, such as determining the business need and evaluating vendors, both IT and business/executive management individuals have responsibilities. Half (51%) say that executive management is involved in determining the business need, but when it comes to determining the technical requirements (75%) and researching and evaluating vendors (65%), IT and the specific data/analytics teams are primarily responsible.

When evaluating data & analytics vendors, the most important criteria are ease of use (32%) tied with security/governance capabilities. Ease of use rises significantly for SMBs (40%) while only 27% of enterprises rank this as a key evaluation factor. Additional evaluation criteria include the integration into existing infrastructure (30%), data visualization capabilities (29%), and support and services (26%).

To learn more about this study, download the full executive summary, or request a research briefing. To learn more about how IDG engages with decision-makers researching and investing in data-driven solutions, contact us.

About the 2021 IDG Data & Analytics Study
IDG conducted its 2021 Data & Analytics survey online to gain a better understanding of organizations’ data-driven initiatives, challenges, goals, investments, and vendor expectations. A total of 595 global respondents participated in the survey and results in this report are based off of 514 respondents who reported their organizations are currently implementing, planning, or considering data-driven projects. This is the 5th time IDG has conducted a data & analytics study, with the most recent year prior being the 2016 IDG Big Data Study.

About IDG Communications, Inc.
IDG Communications’ vision is to make the world a better place by enabling the right use of technology, because we believe that the right use of technology can be a powerful force for good.

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Stacey Raap
Marketing and Research Manager
IDG Communications, Inc.