Trucks at Work

Data: It’s just not getting used

These days, the trucking industry – indeed, the business community as a whole – is just swimming in data; from engine codes to engender remote diagnostics; from telematics networks to measure things such as vehicle uptime and safety; and of course from basic tracking and tracing devices to help pinpoint freight and vehicle location for any number of reasons.

Yet if the results of a new survey are to be believed, companies from across the business spectrum are rarely obtaining the maximum possible value from the data they produce.

This survey – conducted by information management company Iron Mountain and global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – polled 1,800 senior business leaders divided equally between Europe and North America heading up organizations employing between 250 to over 2,500 employees.

Iron Mountain and PwC found that just 4% of the businesses they are able to extract the full value from the information they hold, with over a third (36%) lacking the tools and skills they need to do so.

As a result, the firms determined that 43% of the European and North American companies surveyed obtain little tangible benefit from their information, and 23% derive no benefit whatsoever.

The poll also showed that, despite the belief held by 75% of North American business leaders that they are already making the most of their information, a look at the resources their organizations currently have in place tells a very different story, said Sue Trombley, managing director of thought leadership at Iron Mountain.

“Every organization we spoke to wants to use its information to operate and compete more effectively, but too many are held back by a lack of specific skills, technical capabilities and their corporate culture,” she noted.

“The impact of these gaps is felt at the highest levels of the business [as] around a quarter of C-suite executives say they have yet to experience any benefits from information in terms of increased speed and confidence in decision-making, faster product development, cost savings or new customer acquisition or retention,” Trombley (at left) added. “Managing information for competitive advantage is vital for long-term business success and belongs at the very top of the company agenda.”

Iron Mountain and PwC also noted that one in five of those executives surveyed said they do not employ data analysts to extract value from information, or lack the data interpretation skills or insight application capabilities required to turn information into the decision-ready facts, targeted marketing campaigns, improved processes and innovation that deliver a return on information.

The study also reveals that many organizations are failing to effectively manage their information as it travels through the business, Trombley emphasized.

Nearly one in five doesn’t believe the organization knows what information it holds (16%), how it flows through the business and where it is either most valuable (23%) or most vulnerable (20%), she said.

“When it comes to information management, many of the world’s leading organizations don’t know what they don’t know and aren’t trying to find out,” added Richard Petley, head of data quality and governance within PwC's Data Assurance practice.

“In a 24/7 digital world, information is insight and insight is power,” he stressed. “Yet the falling cost of technology means it has never been easier to harness information and use this like any other asset in the business.”

Many trucking firms, though, seem to be grasping this essential point. That’s a good thing because crunching “Big Data” – as well as beefing up resources to protect it – will be key to how motor carriers generate revenues and profits now and in the future.

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