NewVantage Partners, strategic advisors in data-driven business transformation to Fortune 1000 companies and industry leaders, has released the results of its 8th annual survey of senior corporate c-executives on the topics of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) business adoption. The theme of the 2020 executive survey is Data-Driven Business Transformation: Connecting Data/AI Investment to Business Outcomes.
More than 70 Fortune 1000 or industry leading firms are represented in this year’s survey, among them Allstate, Berkshire Hathaway, Capital One, CVS Health, Google, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, and Met Life. C-executive decision-makers comprise 98.8% of the survey participants.
In the Foreword to this year’s survey, NewVantage Partners CEO and Founder Randy Bean, and Thomas H. Davenport, author of the landmark study Competing on Analytics, and an Advisor with the firm, write “This is the 8th annual survey by NewVantage Partners of senior executives about data and how organizations extract value from it. Throughout this period, the survey results have been quite consistent. They portray a field that is struggling to succeed despite massive investments in technology and applications.”
They continue, “But continuing in the current vein, or giving up on the objective of data-driven organizations and cultures, isn’t really a viable option. That would mean the eventual demise of legacy organizations in favor of digital native firms—a prospect that many executives have feared in previous surveys. While human change is almost always more difficult to accomplish than technical change, it is hardly impossible. The companies that change the paradigm of data management and exploitation in a more human direction will, we believe, be the leading firms of the future.”
Key findings of the 2020 New Vantage Partners Big Data and AI Executive Survey are:
Data and AI investment are up, but the pace of investment is slowing
The percentage of firms investing greater than $50MM is up to 64.8% in 2020 from just 39.7% in 2018, with a total of 98.8% of firms investing in Big Data and AI initiatives. However, the pace of investment is leveling off, as only 51.9% of firms are accelerating their rate of investment, in stark contrast to the 91.6% who were accelerating their pace of investment in 2019.
AI results continue to be at an early stage with limited deployment
Firms report ongoing interest and an active embrace of AI technologies and solutions, with 91.5% of firms reporting ongoing investment in AI. On the side of caution, however, only 14.6% of firms report that they have deployed AI capabilities into widespread production, and the percentage of firms naming AI as the most disruptive technology declined from 80.0% in 2019 to 69.5% in 2020 — still a sizable lead over Cloud Computing at a distant 11.0%.
Firms struggle to become Data-driven as progress is slow
Business adoption of Big Data continues to be a struggle, with 73.4% of firms citing this as an ongoing challenge. Only 37.8% report that they have thus far created a data-driven organization. Even fewer – only 26.8% — report success at building a data culture within their firms. Firms are still struggling to compete on analytics – only 45.1%, a slight decline from 47.6% in 2019. Most firms cite people and process challenges – 90.9% — as the biggest barriers to becoming data-driven organizations.
The Chief Data Officer role remains unsettled and in early maturity for most firms
Firms continue to struggle with the role and function of the Chief Data Officer (CDO/CDAO)– 72.1% of firms report that the CDO/CDAO function remains an unsettled role, while only 27.9% describe the role as being successful and established. Firms are favoring outside change agents in the CDO/CDAO role – 48.5% in 2020, up from 38.2% in 2019, and are turning away from insider veterans – down to 15.8% in 2020 from 32.4% in 2019.
Accountability for data remains an issue with no consensus owner or approach
Many organizations continue to point to no single point of accountability for data within their firms, with 26.8% pointing to no single owner, and only 40.2% identifying the CDO/CDAO as primary executive with data responsibility.
About NewVantage Partners
Since 2001, NewVantage Partners has helped a blue-chip roster of Fortune 1000 companies and industry leaders leverage data and analytics to drive innovation and business transformation. NewVantage Partners thought-leadership perspectives appear in leading publications, including Forbes, Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, and The Wall Street Journal. NewVantage is based in Boston with offices in New York, San Francisco, Austin, and Raleigh. Visit http://newvantage.com for more information.