New Report Looks at the Reality of Data-Driven Decision Making

While executives often express their desire to be data-driven in their decision making, a new study finds that the reality is that two-thirds of CEOs are still making decisions based on gut feel.

The Alation State of Data Culture Report looked at 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  they have achieved in leveraging data to drive business value for their organizations. results

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 companywide 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.” 

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.

However, more than half (58%) of respondents said 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.” 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.

The report is available at 


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