There is a "clear link" between financial performance and the broad use of data by employees, according to research from the Economist Intelligence Unit.
A global survey of 530 senior executives conducted by the EIU found that companies are more than three times more likely to rate themselves "substantially ahead in financial performance" when they believe their data usage is ahead of their peers.
Less surprisingly, the EIU survey found more than 80 percent of respondents believed employees across their organisations can and should be using data to do their jobs.
According to the survey results the most successful companies are maximising the use of data by providing necessary training and promoting the sharing of data across all levels of employees and departments.
The survey provides guidance for executives who want to create a "data-driven culture". Making data collection a central focus is a main target, says the EIU. Data collection is cited as "very important/essential" to data culture by 76 percent of executives from top-performing companies, compared with 41 percent from companies that lag their peers.
Jerry O'Dwyer, a principal at Deloitte Consulting, said "data democratisation is a transformative idea". He said, "There is more and more resistance to having everything funneled through IT." O'Dwyer said it "would be foolish" to attempt to empower every employee, but that "everyone should at least be given the opportunity to work with data".
The research was sponsored by business intelligence management firm Tableau Software. "Leading companies realise that being successful means giving people the opportunity to work with data," said Elissa Fink, chief marketing officer at Tableau Software. "Making data available and easy to use for all employees can transform an organisation's culture, and it's good for the bottom line."