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Datavore or dataphobe? Is your business making the most of data?

by | Jul 29, 2015

Most businesses now talk about data but where is it coming from and how are you using it? NESTA – the National Endowment for Society, Technology and the Arts has published an amazing free report – Skills of the datavores – talent and the data revolution. Datavores are “those businesses which rely on data for commercial decision–making” but the report shows that only a small number (18%) of UK businesses use data analysis despite the business benefits.

NESTA say that digitisation means an avalanche of data, which is constantly being added to at speed and that “the opportunities to create value from this data are quite simply bewildering.” The challenge for business is how to realise the value of data and to find people equipped to do so in this fast-changing environment. Is your business ready to embrace data-analysis? Are you training your people in this fast-becoming essential new skill?

You can find the in-depth report here. NESTA grouped the sample into 4 different subsets depending on their responses and summary of the findings are:

  1. Datavores (16%): Companies that make strong use of data & analysis for decision–making.
  2. Data Builders (22%): Companies using ‘big’ datasets requiring dedicated servers or (possibly multiple) clusters for parallel processing.
  3. Data Mixers (31%): Companies that collect and combine data from a variety of sources.
  4. Dataphobes (30%): Companies that work with small datasets and few data sources, and do not use data or analysis to make decisions.

Where would you put your business? The majority of PR companies that we work with, and to some extent in-house teams too, would probably fall into categories 3 and 4. However things are changing and the report states that:

  • “The Creative Media sector is amongst the  most active in their recruitment of data analysts. Almost two–thirds of Creative Media companies – had tried to hire at least one analyst in the previous 12 months.
  • Creative Media companies tend to use a wider variety of data sources regularly (and in particular social media data).
  • They have database skills, and work with unstructured techniques like social network analysis and text mining more often.”

Datavores are 2 x as likely to trial and experiment to see what works, 3 x as likely to use customer data to develop a business strategy and 25 % more likely to say they innovate ahead of their competitors.

Using data and insight as the jump-off for creativity is a crucial part of the creative process and essential to developing strategy. Is your workforce equipped to make the most of the opportunities that data offers? If you’re interested in how to improve your strategic and creative capabilities check out our courses here.


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