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Organizations recognize the importance of data and, if given additional budget, the majority of marketers would use it to invest in data and analytics. Some organizations are further ahead of the game than others when it comes to integrating data into their business practices, though. Here’s what they’re doing better than those organizations that are still working on this integration, per a report [pdf] from IBM.

IBM split the more than 13,000 C-suite executives surveyed into stages of “data leadership.” The top 9% – Torchbearers – represent those global organizations that “have fused data strategy to business strategy, with trust as the plumb line. Operating in a data-rich culture, they generate higher revenue growth and profitability than their peers.” Aspirationals, on the other hand, represent 25% of respondents and have only just begun “to integrate enterprise-wide business and data strategies and do not have a data-driven culture in place.”

Torchbearers are more comfortable using data to make decisions. Four in 5 (79%) say that their enterprise is collecting the types of data needed to make decisions, compared to 38% of Aspirationals who can say the same. Furthermore, 78% of Torchbearers say their C-suite team has the data mindset needed to improve the quality of decision making, while only 34% of Aspirationals’ C-suite teams share that data mindset.

In the past, confidence in employees’ talents to derive value from data was middling at best, even as data management and analytic skills have been deemed to be highly valued in the future. Torchbearer organizations seem to understand that these skills are important, with 73% saying they are actively working to provide employees with the analytical skills and tools they require. Only 29% of Aspirationals say they empower employees with the skills and tools required to get the most out of data.

Data governance is also a critical topic in which some have fallen behind. As few as 22% of Aspirationals report that governance clearly defines rules for collecting, using and sharing data, compared to 69% of Torchbearers.

Meanwhile, few (22%) Aspirationals can say that their C-suite has extensive access to accurate and actionable 360-degree customer data, while 69% of Torchbearers have reported having access to this quality of data.

Another notable difference between Torchbearers and Aspirationals is how they share data with other areas of the business. One of the biggest challenges organizations face in gaining insights from data is that it’s siloed and difficult to access. IBM’s study found that Torchbearers (64%) are far more likely than Aspirationals (16%) to share data freely across other functional business areas.

The full report can be accessed here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 13,484 individuals across 6 C-suite roles from 98 countries and across 20 industries.

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