Report: Significant data skills gap costing businesses billions

A gap has emerged between aspirations to be data-driven and the ability of employees to create business value with data

According to a new report, while businesses are aware of how vital data is to success, a gap has emerged between aspirations to be data-driven and the ability of employees to create business value with data.

The new report from Accenture and Qlik, The Human Impact of Data Literacy, conducted on behalf of The Data Literacy Project, found only 20 per cent of the working population are fully confident in their data literacy skills, only 39 per cent of employees trust their decisions more when based on data. Nearly half (47 per cent) report frequently deferring to “gut feel” when making decisions, and 72 per cent of employees report feeling overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data.

It also reports nearly one-third (31 per cent) of the workforce have taken at least one day of sick leave due to stress related to information, data, and tech issues, and each year, Australian companies lose an average of over five working days (38 hours 34 mins) per employee due to procrastination and sick leave due to stress resulting from information, data, and tech issues, which equates to $13.9 billion in lost productivity each year. 

Accenture and Qlik’s survey of 9000 employees around the world, including 1000 from Australia, found when employees struggle to make sense of data, productivity and business value can be affected.  

Despite nearly all Australian employees (88 per cent) recognising data as an asset, few are using it to inform decision-making. Only 25 per cent of surveyed employees believe they’re fully prepared to use data effectively. 

This lack of data skills is shrinking productivity. In fact, 29 per cent of surveyed employees stated they will find an alternative method to complete the task without using data. Across Australia, 56 per cent of workers report that data-overload has contributed to workplace stress. 

“No one questions the value of data – but many companies need to re-invent their approach to data governance, analysis, and decision-making. This means ensuring that their workforce has the tools and training necessary to deliver on the new opportunities that data presents,” Accenture Data Business Group, group technology officer and global lead, Sanjeev Vohra, said. 

“Data-driven companies that focus on continuous learning will be more productive and gain a competitive edge.”

Employees who identify as data-literate are at least 50 per cent more likely to say they feel empowered to make better decisions and are trusted to make better decisions. What’s more, 41 per cent of employees in Australia believe data literacy training would make them more productive. 

Global head of data literacy at Qlik and chair of the Data Literacy Project Advisory Board, Jordan Morrow, added despite recognising the integral value of data to the success of their business, most firms are still struggling to build teams that can actually bring that value to life.  

“There has been a focus on giving employees self-service access to data, rather than building individuals’ self-sufficiency to work with it. Yet, expecting employees to work with data without providing the right training or appropriate tools is a bit like going fishing without the rods, bait or nets – you may have led them to water but you aren’t helping them to catch a fish,” he said.

The Human Impact of Data Literacy report is based on research conducted among 9000 global full-time employees in organisations of 50+ employees in the UK, USA, Germany, France, Singapore, Sweden, Japan, Australia and India. 1000 Australian employees were surveyed.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia. 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Tyron Hayes

​The current global COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in unprecedented disruption to every aspect of our lives as marketing and brand professionals, from the ways we work, to how our organisations operate, and the way in which we acquire and engage customers. So we’ve drawn on our wonderful CMO50 alumni community to explore different aspects of the crisis facing all of us right now.

More Videos

Why these voice assistants are so popular nowadays? Maybe I should get one too? I am really curious.

Jill Kim

Aussie brands jump on voice-interaction bandwagon following Amazon Alexa's local launch

Read more

Your page is very helpful. Thank you for sharing with us

Eriona Ajvazi

10 brands making a positive difference to a world in crisis

Read more

Extremely insightful and well written. Thanks for the great article!

Nicole Brodie Nahum

Why COVID-19 makes it more important than ever to move at the speed of the consumer

Read more

Blockchain is one of the fastest growing technology in today's digital era. Industries like banking and finance are already using blockch...

Aniket Singh

Can blockchain deliver on its big advertising promises?

Read more

Great article Emma. So many gems in there. Awesome to have you in the team!

One Small Step Collective

Why COVID-19 makes it more important than ever to move at the speed of the consumer

Read more

Blog Posts

The gear change required for business during COVID-19

The current world pandemic, COVID-19, and its tragic effects has created different and challenging situations for nearly every business. Every business sector is affected differently, depending on the nature of what your place in the world, creating the most unique situation most of us have ever and will ever experience during our professional lives.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

How can organisations debias their decisions?

​People whose personal details and experiences signal they come from racially diverse backgrounds are less likely than anglo or Caucasian candidates to make it through the first cut in recruitment processes. Even if the organisation says it values diversity.

Dr Karen Morley

Author, commentator

Is your marketing team adapting quickly enough to the COVID-19 crisis?

The impact of coronavirus is far reaching with the true impact on the economy and businesses is unknown. While there are a few categories and brands experiencing growth, for the most part the crisis is wreaking havoc for large and small operators across many sectors including entertainment, tourism, retail, fitness, services and the list goes on.

Teresa Sperti

Founder, Arktic Fox

Sign in