Businesses in the UK are spending too much time gathering data and not enough thinking about how best to use that data to build market share, according to KPMG Management Consulting.

Speaking ahead of the Big Data Analytics 2012 conference in London, Eddie Short, partner and head of business intelligence at KPMG, said that although information used to equal power, data is not panacea for all business ills.

“If businesses remain intent on winning some sort of data 'arms race' – gathering more insight on past, present and future customers than the next man – then they need to understand that this particular race has already been lost,” said Short.

“Thanks to the world of social media, organisations such as Amazon, Google and Facebook already know more about most companies’ customers than they do themselves.”

He added that successful businesses will be those that realise that power comes from what they do with the vast pool of information at their disposal.

“As we strive for economic recovery the businesses that will grow will be those who stop gathering and spend more time understanding the data they already possess,” he added. “Being prepared to ask 'why' rather than spending time demanding to know 'more' will ensure that genuine insights can be gleaned and followed up.”

A recent survey of consumers in France, Germany, the UK and the US by Pitney Bowes found that, for the most part, consumers are ready to part with certain types of data so long as they perceive a benefit in doing so. However, they will hold other data close no matter what.

“When data is our goal, we've got to get there in a step-wise fashion and with respect. You want to build for the longer haul – build a relationship of trust and build the brand,” Dan Kohn, vice president of corporate marketing at Pitney Bowes, told CIO.

“When you go for the short-term, that's where the pitfalls are. Every interaction is a chance to build trust or potentially wreck it.”