Over a third of businesses do not get value out of the information they possess, a study by Iron Mountain and PWC has found. Information management company Iron Mountain and PWC found in the newly launched information value index that 36% of companies in Western countries are uninformed and ill-equipped, and are constrained by a lack of knowledge on how to use customer data and other information properly.

"A staggering one in three of companies are getting almost no value from the information that they've got," Elizabeth Bramwell, a director at Iron Mountain, told IBTimes UK. "This is at odds with what they say. When we speak to them, they think they are getting value from the information. There is a big gap in what they believe they're doing and what they are actually doing."

The research also found companies in the UK performed less than the global average, with US organisations using information most effectively. European countries also missed out on opportunities.

Richard Petley, director at PWC, said the fact that 76% of companies are at least constrained by several organisational factors is a huge loss for companies. In 2014, $51.6bn (£33.8bn, €46bn) was invested by companies into analytics services. In 2018, that amount is expected to be 89.6%, according to the International Data Corporation

"At the bottom end, you're looking at an ill-informed group who really don't know what they don't know about information value," Petley told IBTimes UK. "They are doing very poorly in terms of understanding how information can make a difference and add value, let alone actually exploiting it."

Only 4% of companies belong to the information elite, as branded by PWC and Iron Mountain. From the 1,800 business leaders across North America and Europe, a very small proportion used information effectively and have introduced an information governance oversight body.

Petley said: "The characteristics are that they get governance right, meaning that they don't just have a load of policies that sit on the shelves and do nothing, they actually live through this governance and they've changed culturally and everyone in the organisation is aware of how to manage information well and how to get value from it."

Changing company behaviour

Although a toolkit to analyse information is important, Petley said technology is not the straight answer for a lack of value out of information. He added: "If you want to change the way an organisation behaves it is about culture and it is about leadership."

The study showed that the organisations profiting most from information use put information management on the board agenda and made it a priority. "They are driving change through that leadership," Petley said. "The information elite has the right tools and they use the right people doing things with information. When I say the right people, I mean they have invested in analytics, both in terms of technologies and skills in those people.

"We see an alarming amount of people who say that the best analytics tool they use is excel and it does not go much further," he said.

According to Petley, the investment in information analysis is of vital importance for companies to be ahead of the curb, as more and more data is available to companies as well.

He added: "There's a really strong link and businesses should ask themselves: 'If we want to achieve this strategic outcome, what information do we need and what are the upsides to valuing that information as we're trying to achieve that strategic intent?'"