New research revealed today shows that database utilisation has come a long way from its early days, with 99 per cent of large European companies across the UK, France and Germany now having a set of clearly defined business objectives for their databases and data management.

However, whilst this may be the official corporate line, it is apparent that there is still a considerable difference between policies and practice. 88 per cent and 86 per cent respectively of the sales, marketing, and IT professionals surveyed are in near-perfect agreement that corporate databases fall short of the ideal.

Further findings demonstrate broad agreement between IT professionals and sales and marketing about what database objectives and priorities are, namely to provide 100 per cent accurate information; to provide up-to-date information to users and to keep databases fully up to date.

However, in another apparent disconnect between what the policy dictates and what the database should deliver; 80 per cent of sales and marketing professionals are not completely confident that the information they get from their company’s databases is completely up to date and accurate. An alarming 83 per cent of IT professionals also feel this way.

There is also a strong correlation between the seniority of the survey respondent and how positive they are about their company’s success at meeting stated database and data management objectives: in general, the more senior an employee is, the more disconnected they are from the facts when it comes to delivering against those objectives.

Specifically, more sales and marketing professionals at director (20 per cent) and senior manager level (16 per cent) think their company achieves database objectives perfectly compared to middle managers (4 per cent); similarly, more IT professionals at director (45 per cent) and senior manager level (15 per cent) agree, compared to middle managers (6 per cent).

Data management is one of the greatest challenges faced by organisations trying to gain a strategic advantage from harnessing the value of their information assets. It’s very encouraging to see that this concept is now well understood in Europe, but unless companies take the plunge and begin to put theory into practice this insight will yield little practical benefit. Organisations must combine sensible, uniform policies with the right technologies to ensure both are used at all times.

Also apparent from the findings were a number of differences in attitude between the three countries covered by the survey. For example, French sales and marketing professionals are generally the most positive about how well their companies meet their stated database management objectives (with 21 per cent satisfied; Germany: four per cent; UK: ten per cent).

Dr. Cherry Taylor, managing director at Dynamic Markets, added “This could indicate that French companies’ database managers are more efficient, though the statistics do also show they take by far the longest to handle information requests. Perhaps it may also be appropriate, therefore, to take in to account the service level agreements that are in place within the business.”