Is Your Company Gaining Momentum in Data?

Data Maturity Remains Atop the Leadership Agenda

BCG Study Finds That the Number of Data-Mature Companies Has Quadrupled Over Six Years

BOSTON—The growth rate of companies’ data maturity has almost doubled since 2018, from 8% to 15%. Thirteen percent of companies are at the highest level of data maturity in 2021, compared with only 3% in 2015, according to a survey of more than 1,100 companies across industries worldwide conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The article titled “Is Your Company Gaining Momentum in Data?” is being released today.

The survey, the third in a series conducted by BCG since 2015, asked respondents to evaluate their level of maturity and set target aspiration levels for the following three years. Using a scale of one to five, participants assessed themselves on seven core data capabilities, which collectively encompass 40 competencies. BCG’s analysis shows that advances in all capabilities have contributed to companies’ growth in data maturity since the previous survey in 2018, but particular gains were made in core areas such as data governance, data platforms, and ecosystems and partnerships. However, a gap between champions and laggards remains across all capabilities.

“We were encouraged to see that building data capabilities remained at the top of the corporate agenda despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Elias Baltassis, a BCG GAMMA partner and director and coauthor of the study. “Companies that leverage data to its full potential can generate unique insights that lead to smarter decisions, smoother processes, and a significant competitive advantage over their peers. But to do that, they must seize the growth momentum in what is a very fast-moving environment as the pace of technological development continues to accelerate.”

Companies in the technology and telecommunications, financial institutions, and consumer industries continue to lead in data maturity, compared with other industries, but significant gains were made in the energy and public sector spaces. Each showed improvement, 23% and 25%, respectively, in data maturity since 2018; many policymakers’ increasing focus on digital government services may be a key driver for public sector growth. By contrast, the automotive industry showed little progress, despite producing vehicles that are increasingly digital. While the US strengthened its lead as the most data-mature country, Asian countries are increasingly closing the gap. China and Singapore registered 20% and 22% growth, respectively, since 2018.

Companies are setting ambitious growth targets—as high as 30% across all seven core data capabilities—with many hoping to achieve state-of-the-art capabilities over the next three years. However, that is double the growth rate seen over the past three years. Top-performing companies set more-realistic targets of about 15% growth that they successfully hit. By contrast, less mature companies often set higher targets that they are unable to reach.

“Focusing on setting achievable targets is key to closing the gap between data champions and laggards,” said Antoine Gourévitch, a BCG managing director and senior partner and coauthor of the study.

“Companies that build their data maturity incrementally across all seven capabilities, and with a focus on specific business priorities, reap the rewards in the digital transformation race,” added Sylvain Duranton, a BCG managing director and senior partner, BCG GAMMA’s global leader, and coauthor of the study.

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