The push for data-driven culture changes faced some headwinds in 2021, according to a new survey of data leaders.

The survey, conducted by NewVantage Partners, polled data leaders from 85 Fortune 1000 firms.

Even as fewer organizations reported a data-driven culture, leaders were still seeing results from big data investments.

More on the results:

Big Data and AI adoption continue to represent a significant challenge as leading companies struggle to become data driven. Rather than exhibiting steady improvement, firms appear to be confronting greater challenges as demands increase, data volumes grow, and companies seek to mature their data capabilities.

Organizations continue to struggle with making the transformation to becoming data driven, as
reflected in the metrics, and evidenced in notable declines in key measures of achievement:

▪ Only 24.0% have created a data-driven organization, a decline from 37.8%
▪ Only 24.2% have forged a data culture, down from 26.8%
▪ Only 39.3% are managing data as a business asset, a decrease from 50.0%
▪ Only 42.1% are competing on data and analytics, a decline from 45.1%
▪ Only 48.5% are driving innovation with data, a fall from 48.5%
▪ In addition, only 29.2% are achieving transformational business outcomes, and only
30.0% of firms have developed a well-articulated data strategy for their company.

Even with the significant headwinds that large companies face in their efforts to become datadriven, executives are optimistic about the future. As observed, investment levels are strong and steady, and the pace of investment is increasing, as is the realization of successful business outcomes.

This year’s survey observed a notable increase in companies reporting successful results from their Big Data and AI investments – a significant increase to a near-universal 96.0%, up from 70.3% in 2020 and nearly a 100% increase from 48.4% just five years ago. This suggests demonstrable progress.