Press Release • September 30, 2020

Alation Releases Inaugural State of Data Culture Report

Report finds 90% of decision-makers question their data 67% rely on gut instinct over data

Redwood City, Calif. – September 30, 2020 – While Global 2000 companies profess their love for data and declare they are data-driven in their decision-making, the reality is that two-thirds of CEOs are still making decisions based on gut feel. That surprising stat is just one of many new insights contained in the inaugural, quarterly Alation State of Data Culture Report issued today by Alation, the leader in enterprise data intelligence solutions, and produced by Wakefield Research. The report provides a quarterly assessment of the progress enterprises have made in establishing a data culture within their organizations, the challenges they face in embracing data-driven decision making, and the progress they have made in leveraging data to drive business value for their organizations.

The report introduces a Data Culture Index™ (DCI), a quantitative assessment of how well an organization is positioned to enable data-driven decision-making. Enterprises were scored based upon the adoption of the three pillar disciplines of data culture: the ability to find data (data search & discovery); the ability to properly analyze, interpret and draw conclusions from data (data literacy); and the ability to ensure trustworthiness and accountability of data assets, including compliance with policies and regulations (data governance).

“We discovered that most companies are investing heavily in prioritizing data within their organizations. More than 86% have a C-level data officer and 78% have a company-wide initiative to become more data-driven,” said Aaron Kalb, Co-Founder and Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Alation. “At the same time, they have substantial work ahead to develop the data culture they need to drive business value.”

The report found that a “data culture disconnect” exists whereby data leaders overestimate their organizations’ data culture in self-assessments compared to the score produced by the DCI. 58% of leaders gave themselves a grade higher. Just 12% of companies scored an “A” on data culture development; nearly two-thirds scored a “C,” “D,” or “F.”

The report found that companies are focused on fostering a data culture with increasing collaboration between the business and the data and analytics team (44%) and managing data governance at the point of use (41%) as their top two initiatives. At top-tier data culture companies, specifically those with an “A” or “B” score, the figures increase to 59% and 56% respectively.

Trust in data

Data quality remained the soft underbelly of data culture, resulting in decision-makers questioning data. According to the report, 90% of those polled said that the C-level executives at their company at least sometimes question the data that they use, with more than half (56%), saying this happens often or all of the time.

Two-thirds (67%) of data leaders said that their company’s C-level executives ignore data when making business decisions, relying instead on gut instinct. The top reason data professionals said their C-levels ignore data is because they believe their gut instinct is the differentiator (42%). Another 35% said it’s because there’s not enough collaboration and 35% said it’s because they are used to doing things their own way.

Impact of COVID-19

Over half (58%) of respondents reported that C-level executives rely “much more” or “somewhat more” on data for making business decisions as a result of COVID-19, with 18% relying “much more.” At top-tier companies those figures increase to 67% and 25% respectively.

Two-thirds (66%) said their company has either expanded how they use data already or have started using data in new ways as a result of COVID-19. Companies reported increased usage of BI tools (47%), data visualization (43%), and data catalogs (39%) since the start of the COVID-19.

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About the Alation State of Data Culture Report The Alation State of Data Culture Report is a quarterly study sponsored by Alation and executed by Wakefield Research. Wakefield Research conducted a quantitative research study among 300 Data & Analytics Leaders at enterprises with 2,500+ employees in the US, UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Enterprises are polled each quarter regarding the progress of establishing a data culture — i.e., a culture of data-driven decision making — within their organizations, the challenges they face in embracing data-driven decision making, and the progress they have made in leveraging data to drive business value for their organization.

About Alation

Alation is the leader in enterprise data intelligence solutions, enabling self-service analytics, cloud transformation, data governance, and AI-ready data. More than 550 enterprises build data culture and improve data-driven decision-making with Alation, including Cisco, Nasdaq, Pfizer, Salesforce, and Virgin Australia. Alation has been named to Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces list four times, is a 2022 UK’s Best Workplaces™ in tech and Best Workplaces™ for Women, and recognized as a 2022 and 2023 UK’s Best Workplaces™. For more information, visit

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Lauren Lloyd

Director, Corporate Communication