It is not the technology, nor the employees, nor the organisational structure but the lack of data literacy and a holistic approach that are the most important challenges on the road to a mature data-driven organisation. This is the picture that emerges from KPMG’s study of more than 100 organisations into the status of data-driven companies and institutions in the Netherlands. While 65% of data managers have developed a strategy and timeline on the road to data-driven operation, four out of five respondents nevertheless say there is still a long way to go to achieving mature status. The pandemic has further widened the gap in maturity levels.

Despite the growing desire to gather, store, report and analyse data, 79% of Dutch businesses are having difficulty implementing a data-driven operation. The ability to understand, analyse and apply data in daily decision-making is the biggest obstacle to a data-driven culture. And data-driven operations are often still limited to one or a few departments, such as Finance, Sales and/or Marketing. Consistent company-wide definitions and data quality are lacking. That limits the usability of data for the entire organisation, the study reveals.

Three quarters of respondents make use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in their data analyses. However, the overwhelming majority report that they are currently mainly experimenting with algorithms. According to data managers, making use of algorithms is a difficult task because the required data is not always available and its quality is lacking. Only 12% of respondents use smart analyses to monitor data quality, for example.

“Employees who are used to taking decisions based on their own knowledge and gut feeling need help getting used to a different way of working. Moreover, they need to be able to have absolute confidence that the data is reliable. Without a company-wide data strategy, the consistent quality of data often leaves much to be desired, so our research reveals”, says Maurice op het Veld, partner Data & Analytics at KPMG.

Whereas in 29% of mature data-driven organisations, relevant investments have actually increased during the pandemic, at companies and institutions which are not or barely data-driven, investments are falling or stagnant. The KPMG study concludes that 66% of the latter organisations have made fewer or the same number of investments in data and analytics.

Finally, the study indicates that the availability of a clear company-wide data strategy, the ability to measure the value of data analyses and a clear commitment on the part of management are the three most important steps on the road to a successful data-driven organisation.