Dr Maggie Zeng, from Kent Business School, who worked in collaboration with Professor Keith Glaister, from the Warwick Business School, said success was based on managers’ ability to ‘democratize, contextualize, experiment and execute’ around the use of big data.

The guidance follows an investigation into the use of big data within five Chinese internet platform companies that put big data at the heart of their operations.

Researchers interviewed more than 40 senior managers, including CEOs, to understand how they use big data internally and externally. 

Interviews also included executives at partner firms and third-party developers that worked with them.

To inform the research, analysis covered meeting minutes and business strategy documents.

The research was published in a paper titled ‘Value creation from big data: Looking inside the black box’, in the journal Strategic Organisation.

It provided guidance on the four key areas where managers can have an impact:

Data democratisation: By allowing more employees to access and interpret data it gives firms a better chance of insights being derived and enables better cross-team collaboration to ensure the right questions are being asked and answered.

Data contextualisation: Ensuring other relevant business information is accessible to staff enables them to place the data they are working with in the wider context of the organisation and understand what the results they generate mean.

Data experimentation: Creating an environment where staff feel able to experiment with data on a ‘trial and error’ basis enables them to find new insights within the data that more rigid data analysis structures prevent.

Data insight execution: Managers must create a culture where insights derived from big data analysis can be used quickly to ensure the potential benefits the insights offer are realised.

Established in 1965, the University of Kent has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway and Tonbridge in the UK, in addition to sites in Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.