The Data Culture Disconnect

By Aaron Kalb

Published on September 30, 2020

state of data culture 2020 blog

Building a data culture is the number-one priority for Chief Data Officers, according to Gartner. The Alation State of Data Culture Report—released today—finds that 78% of enterprises are undertaking a corporate initiative to become more data driven, but that despite these ambitions, there’s a long way to go.

According to the report, 90% of data leaders indicate that the decision-makers at their company question the data they see at least some of the time. And 67% responded that their C-level executives routinely ignore data, with 31% reporting such disregard for data occurring “often” or “all the time.”

Moreover, the perceived strength of an organization’s data culture rarely matches the reality. According to the report, 66% of leaders rate their organization’s data culture higher than they scored in the report’s Data Culture Index™, a quantitative assessment of how well an organization is positioned to enable data-driven decision making. Only 12% of enterprises scored an A rating.

The Data Culture Index

To accurately assess an organization’s data culture, the Data Culture Index rates enterprises on three factors which form the foundation of a data culture—data search & discovery, data literacy, and data governance:

  • Data search & discovery enables data consumers to find relevant data for decision making.

  • Data literacy helps data consumers to properly analyze, interpret, and draw valid conclusions from that data.

  • Data governance provides assurance that the data is well-managed for quality, accuracy, and compliance throughout.

The distribution of Data Culture Index scores across 300 respondents shows that few enterprises have adopted all three disciplines widely, and a full third of enterprises have only made inroads in implementing data culture within a few departments.

Where Do Enterprises Stumble?

With building a data culture at the top of the CDO priority list and the majority of enterprises investing in becoming data driven, why do enterprises still struggle? The report points to a number of underlying issues, including challenges with data quality and collaboration.

Data quality problems were cited as the top obstacle to using data to drive business value. The effects of poor data quality are far reaching and undermine data culture at its root. When there are misgivings about the quality of the data, data consumers and leadership begin to second guess the data & analytics. If issues persist, that doubt can turn to distrust and lead to executives ignoring data.

A lack of collaboration can also cause a lack of confidence in data. Without collaboration, decision makers are more likely to be skeptical about the data, methodology, and conclusions of analyses done in organizational silos, even if it might ultimately be very useful. When “business people” and “data people” work together throughout analytical processes, they achieve better outcomes and more impact.

Read the full Alation Data Culture Report to dive deeper into these underlying issues, learn what leading organizations are doing to be successful, what the effects of COVID-19 has been on data culture, and to see how your organization ranks in the Data Culture Index.

Supporting Data Culture with Alation

Software alone can’t create data culture, but an effective data catalog can help overcome the challenges of modern data management and create the foundation for data culture. Alation pioneered the data catalog space and is designed to drive effective data search & discovery and data governance and is leveraged by leading enterprises, like American Family Insurance, as part of comprehensive data literacy initiatives.

Alation does this by addressing the five key aspects necessary for a successful data catalog initiative: intelligence, collaboration, guided navigation, active data governance, and broad, deep connectivity. To learn what to look for in a data catalog, download our comprehensive data catalog evaluation guide.

  • The Data Culture Index
  • Where Do Enterprises Stumble?
  • Supporting Data Culture with Alation
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