Chief Content Officer,
Techstrong Group

A global survey of 2,362 small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) finds 19% of nearly all the decisions being made are heavily data driven, while more than half (54%) report that business decisions are mostly data driven.

Conducted by S&P Market Intelligence 451 Research on behalf of Amazon Web Services (AWS), the survey also finds among organizations that are highly data-driven companies 65% reported “significantly” or “moderately” financially outperforming their peers, whereas only 33% of less data-driven companies reported being able to make the same claim.

More than twice the percentage (69%) of highly data-driven organizations reported having a modern comprehensive data strategy compared to those that are less data-driven (28%), the survey finds.

In North America, the majority of highly data-driven (74%) companies are among the highest level of data strategy maturity, which is more than twice the percentage of less data-driven companies (35%). In North America, 92% of highly data-driven companies invested in technology, followed by people (72%) and process (71%). Less data-driven companies (73%) were almost 20% less invested in technology, people (65%) and processes (56%).

The survey makes it clear that the more data savvy an organization is the higher it performs, says Ben Schreiner, head of business innovation for SMBs in the U.S.

Those companies are also going to be among the best positioned to exploit advances in generative artificial intelligence (AI) such as the Amazon Q generative AI–powered assistant for automating processes, he adds. “You need to get your data house in order to realize the potential of AI,” says Schreiner.

In fact, the survey finds highly data driven SMBs in North America are either currently using, or piloting, AI for customer satisfaction/experience (74%), IT operations and cybersecurity (62%), operations and finance (60%), content creation and data analysis (60%), supply chain optimization (48%), workforce, human resources and legal (46%) and marketing and advertising (45%).

In general, the more organizations view data as an asset to be exploited, the more competitive they will be, notes Schreiner.

Of course, most SMBs don’t have nearly the same amount of data to manage as a large enterprise. However, successful SMBs typically build their business around a narrower set of unique data that helps differentiate them from rivals, adds Schreiner.

AWS also makes it simpler to manage data via a Data Exchange Pipeline service, and has certified multiple IT service providers to make data management expertise to SMBs, says Schreiner.

Digital CxOs are at the forefront of converting data into a business asset. Unfortunately, too many organizations still tend to treat data as a burden rather than an opportunity to become more competitive. However, it’s already clear that AI is requiring organizations to change how they view the value of data.

The challenge is that much of the data needed to train those AI models is poorly organized, so many organizations are spending a lot of their time and resources today on mastering the fundamentals of data management. After all, the organizations that can bring order to that chaos first are much more likely to remain competitive. In fact, 2024 is shaping up to be the year that organizations are getting ready to operationalize AI with an eye toward enjoying the benefits of those investments in 2025 and beyond.