Key Findings from the 2023 State of Data Culture Maturity Report

By Anthony Zumpano

Published on December 5, 2023

The four pillars of data culture maturity — data leadership, data search & discovery, data literacy, and data governance — are critical to fostering a data culture and driving business success.

Don’t just take our word for it. Our recent survey of nearly 300 global data professionals, captured in The State of Data Culture Maturity: Alation Research Report, confirms it.

As a followup to last year’s State of Data Culture Report, and with the Alation Data Culture Maturity Model as a framework, our goal was to understand the current status and future trajectory of data culture maturity as it stands in global organizations today.

Although the results yielded some surprising insights, they affirmed the importance for organizations aiming to harness data for their desired business outcomes to enhance at least one, if not all four, of the data culture maturity pillars.

Leadership forms the foundation

Executing any enterprise objective is easier when there is leadership support, and this holds true for data & analytics (D&A) initiatives as well. For example, our results showed that organizations with enterprise-wide search & discovery capabilities are more likely to have strong data leadership, meaning an understanding of the value of data by leaders who set the D&A strategy at the organization.

Genuine data leadership extends beyond this basic comprehension. Given the established correlation between the utilization of customer analytics and corporate performance, leadership not only acknowledges this but also reshapes and contextualizes the importance of data investments for attaining business outcomes.

Companies with strong data leadership are more competitive, compliant, and innovative. In this way, data leadership serves as the cornerstone that fortifies the other three pillars of data culture maturity.

Trouble finding data — and trusting the data that’s found

Alation was founded on the idea that merely possessing data doesn't equate to using it wisely. An abundance of ingredients in your pantry doesn’t mean you can cook a meal without utensils, appliances, or skills. Similarly, the lack of search & discovery tools, as reported by nearly two-thirds of respondents, contributes to challenges like a dearth of metadata, data silos, and localized knowledge, which in turn imperil D&A initiatives.

In the absence of robust data search & discovery tools, organizations encounter hurdles not only in swiftly and efficiently retrieving pertinent information but also in making informed decisions that are not reliant on intuition or untrusted data.

Fortunately, however, most respondents noted that their organizations have improved data search & discovery capabilities in the past year, and plan to improve them in the following year.

Gaps in data governance and data literacy

The responses also indicate that the remaining two data culture maturity pillars, data governance and data literacy, are limited to one, a few, or no departments in most organizations. These shortcomings pose obstacles to achieving trustworthiness and accountability, adhering to policies and regulations, and staying informed about the requirements of top data users.

While the term "governance" implies the implementation of tools and structures to manage and control data, and "literacy" suggests the need for education and skills development, effective investment in either area typically requires a combination of both elements. Data governance delivers structures that enable consistency, creating an environment in which data literacy skills can thrive.

A holistic approach to achieving business objectives

While the survey focuses on individual aspects of data culture maturity, the results emphasize the importance of taking a holistic approach. Understanding how each pillar influences and complements the others is essential for organizations seeking to optimize data usage. This comprehensive perspective ensures that efforts to enhance one aspect of data maturity consider the broader impact on the entire data ecosystem, fostering a more cohesive and mature data culture.

Want to learn more? We invite you to download the report and attend the related webinar, The State of Data Culture Maturity Today: Research Insights, featuring Dr. Jonathan Reichental, founder, professor, and author of Data Governance for Dummies; Billy Tilson, Enterprise Data Architect at GoDaddy; and Julie Smith, Director of Data & Analytics at Alation.

  • Leadership forms the foundation
  • Trouble finding data — and trusting the data that’s found
  • Gaps in data governance and data literacy
  • A holistic approach to achieving business objectives
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