Bacho Foto -

Data leaders bewail employee data illiteracy

Report from data consultancy Carruthers and Jackson finds a significant majority of data function leaders consider their organisations’ employees lack adequate data literacy

Data leaders worldwide have a low estimation of the data literacy skills of the employees at their organisations.

That is according to a survey and report, dubbed a Data maturity index, from data management consultancy Carruthers and Jackson.

The firm’s Index draws on the community it has built up through its annual chief data officer summer school. It finds that 64% of 211 data leaders surveyed and interviewed globally in November 2022, to establish what the firm describes as its “inaugural” Index, believe that most or almost all employees in their organisations are not data literate.

They say this constitutes the biggest barrier to companies’ and other organisations’ data transformation programmes.

The report does register “significant progress for the state of data maturity in terms of tech investment”, but also indicates “clear areas for improvement for both data literacy and governance”.

According to the report, 63% of data leaders believe the technology they have “mostly helps” their use of data. Data analytics tooling, often through cloud storage, is satisfactory, according to the report.

These findings are not unusual. According to a study from Qlik and Accenture, published in mid-2020, just 32% of respondents to that survey said they were able to create measurable value from data and only 27% said they could produce actionable insights from their data.

The study also found that only one in five people were confident in their data literacy skills, and 74% felt overwhelmed when having to work with data.

Carruthers and Jackson said its Index is based on what it calls its Data Maturity Model, comprising four elements – purpose, people, method and tools. The Index report will be published annually.

It also found that although more than half of the organisations surveyed are formalising roles with responsibility for data, nearly one-third (31%) have either unclear data roles and responsibilities, or no formalised data roles and responsibilities at all. Also, 40% of organisations currently have little or no data governance framework in place. 

Read more about data literacy

Caroline Carruthers, chief executive of the consultancy, said: “Despite it being a near universally acknowledged truth that successful, modern businesses need to use their data effectively, our first Data maturity index reveals that organisations are still falling short when it comes to data operations.

“Having worked with hundreds of organisations to support their data transformations, we wanted to use our model to understand what is really going on and share this information with the community. The most important takeaway is that data leaders need more support to ensure that existing employees understand what data can do for them and their departments.

“This is critical before a data transformation can take place. Team members at every level of an organisation must have the foundational ability to understand, work with, analyse, and communicate with data.”

James Miller, product and strategy director at the firm, added: “While it is worrying that so many organisations have little or no data governance framework, what really makes or breaks an organisation’s data strategy is the people using it every day.

“When an organisation has more data-literate employees, leadership starts to understand that data is no longer the preserve of specialist data teams and is more likely to invest in the data transformation process. However, the Index reveals that immaturity in terms of both people and purpose (governance) means that organisations are still struggling with driving data literacy and, in turn, building data culture more generally.”

Read more on Data quality management and governance

Data Center
Data Management