Only 6% of organisations think leaders prioritise data & know how to use it, report finds


While almost all organisations say their leadership think data is important, 53% say that no one at this level has data analytics expertise. In addition, only 6% think leaders prioritise data as a vital resource and understand how to use it, according to a new report.

The report, State of the Sector Data Maturity Report 2021, is based on analysis of last year’s responses to Data Orchard’s Data Maturity Assessment.

Designed for the not-for-profit sector, and completed by almost 1,000 users in 2021, the tool measures organisational data maturity on a five-stage journey. This progresses from ‘Unaware’ through to ‘Mastering’ across seven key themes: Uses, Data, Analysis, Leadership, Culture, Tools, and Skills. 

Over half (53%) of those surveyed say that there is no one with data analytics expertise within their leadership, with 63% of those surveyed saying their leadership is not convinced about data’s value. Only 6% say their leadership plans and prioritises data as a vital resource and understands how to use it to improve what the organisation does.

In fact, the report reveals, only 2% of respondents say their leadership uses data to inform decisions. 63% say their leadership is not convinced about its value and 9% say leadership don’t use data for decision making at all. Only a quarter feel leaders invest enough in data related resources: people, skills, learning and tools.

How organisations are using data

Just under half say their organisations analyse data in meaningful and useful ways although staff report that on average, 46% of their time goes into collecting, managing, and reporting data.

The report shows that:

Most organisations (91%) are doing basic counts and charts40% are still moderately or extensively using paper forms and questionnaires to collect data. Analysis of historic data is widespread with 88% using descriptive analysis to summarise averages and past trendsDeeper analysis around causes, patterns, differences, and correlations is used by 54%More advanced predictive and prescriptive types of analytics are less common, used by 29% and 22% respectivelyLess than a third say they use data to explore and test assumptions about the difference their organisation makes or run pilots or trials to explore how best to act in the futureMore than a quarter say they either don’t bring their data together at all or that people verbally report on itMost commonly, data is manually collated in reports from different sources (43%), with around 1 in 20 doing this in a fully automated way

Organisational culture makes the difference

The report also found that the main theme that unites organisations with a strong level of data maturity is a culture that encourages innovation, a team approach and openness.

Sian Basker, Data Orchard’s Co-Chief Executive and author of the report, commented: 

“There’s a tendency to think about the need for more digital tools to help the sector make the most of its data, and certainly there’s lots to do. But actually it seems to be culture that’s the real influencing factor. Our analysis this year was able to show strong positive correlation between the culture of an organisation and its data maturity. Whereas scoring highly for the tools theme had much less of an impact.”


“As data maturity advances, organisations do invest more time in data, but proportionally, the rewards and benefits grow at a much faster rate. For example, compared to an organisation at ‘Learning’ stage, a ‘Developing’ organisation increases its average time spent on data by 7%, but increases its ability to use data to evidence the need and problems they are addressing by almost 30%.”

Data Orchard is calling on policy makers, leaders, and decision makers with an interest in strengthening the sector to invest more in building the knowledge and skills to advance data maturity, and for more data career and learning pathways in education and training spheres, and a greater awareness of the importance of organisational data maturity within third sector leadership. 

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