Data maturity leaders that built data maturity incrementally and with realistic targets apparently did better than less-mature firms.

In a survey of approximately 1,100 firms worldwide, where performance across seven core data capabilities and more than 40 competencies was weighted the to create an index to gauge ‘data maturity’, the growth rate of respondents firms’ data maturity has almost doubled since 2018, from 8% to 15%.

Thirteen percent of respondent firms were at the highest level of data maturity in 2021, compared with only 3% in 2015, according to the data.

Firms in the technology and telecommunications, financial institutions, and consumer industries continued to lead in data maturity, compared with other industries in the sample population.

Significant gains had also been made in the energy and public sector spaces: each showed improvement, 23% and 25%, respectively, in data maturity since 2018.

Other findings

The increasing focus of many policy makers 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 were increasingly digital. Also:

  • While the US strengthened its lead as the most data-mature country, Asian countries were increasingly closing the gap. China and Singapore registered 20% and 22% growth, respectively, since 2018.
  • Respondents were 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 firms set more-realistic targets of about 15% growth in data maturity which they did successfully achieve. By contrast, less mature companies often set higher targets that they were unable to attain.
  • Advances in all capabilities had contributed to firms’ 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 remained across all capabilities.

According to Elias Baltassis, a coauthor of the survey and a GAMMA partner and director of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which commissioned the survey: “We were encouraged to see that building data capabilities remained at the top of the corporate agenda despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.”

Added Sylvain Duranton, a BCG managing director and senior partner, BCG GAMMA’s global leader, 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.”