Data skills gap threatens UK business, say two thirds of CEOs

Almost three quarters (71%) of CEOs across the UK and Ireland believe their business could be at risk from current blind spots in data access and skills, according to a new report released today by Domo.

The study polled more than 100 C-suite leaders on their opinions around data and digital transformation, and found that while the majority believe data could be a threat to the future of their business, there’s a stark demographic split. 84% of CEOs age 25-34 said it could be a risk, compared to just half of over 55s.

It also revealed that because of the rise of data, the traditional working day is all but dead for many CEOs, with a third now checking business analytics first thing in the morning and last thing before they go to bed. That peaks at 54% among 25-34 year olds but drops to just 5% for leaders over 45, who are much more fixed to their desk. 80% of these leaders prefer to wait until they are in the office to check in.

Yet despite the higher percentage of younger CEOs who recognise the risk, the report found that data isn’t always part of their decision making process. While overall, most (80%) leaders base judgements on data and insights, a third aged 25-34 said they preferred gut feeling.

That dropped to just 10% among 35-44s and 5% for 45-54s, suggesting while the next generation may, on balance, be more technologically savvy, they are also more impulsive than their more experienced counterparts.

One thing that all CEOs do seem to agree on though, is that data is now a crucial part of their business operations, the way they lead their teams and their plans for the future. When asked what they plan to invest in most over the next five years, 26% said their focus would be on systems to help manage the wealth of data and analytics, with only cyber security and compliance ranked higher (33%).

A further 18% plan to invest most in recruiting employees with strong digital skills, while 17% will focus on digital training for their existing workforce.

It is clear that younger CEOs have a very different attitude to data in comparison to their more established counterparts. They started their careers in the digital age and have embraced it to create a more flexible working routine, albeit while remaining wary of the consequences of stagnating and a failing to properly understand their data. There is a lot that leaders could learn from that mentality.

Ian Tickle, SVP and General Manager, EMEA, Domo

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