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Fear of data costing Aussie businesses $13.8bn

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
12 March 2020 2 minute readShare
Fear of data

According to new research, Aussie businesses’ failure to put employees at the heart of data strategy is costing them $13.8 billion in lost productivity.

A new report from Accenture and Qlik has revealed alarming findings, suggesting that Aussie companies are losing an average of five working days per employee, each year, because their employees are overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data.

This equates to $13.8 billion in lost productivity.


The research, conducted on behalf of The Data Literacy Project, identified two ways how the data literacy gap is preventing organisations in Australia from thriving in the data-driven economy.

Gut feeling tops decision-making

First, 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 the 1,000 surveyed employees, in organisations of 50-plus employees, believe they’re fully prepared to use data effectively, and one in five (20 per cent) report being confident in their data literacy skills.

Additionally, only 39 per cent of employees trust their decisions more when they’re based on data, with almost half (47 per cent) frequently deferring to “gut feel” when making decisions.

Second, a lack of data skills is shrinking productivity.

An eye-opening three-quarters (72 per cent) of employees report feeling overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data which is impacting their overall performance.



In fact, 29 per cent of surveyed employees stated that 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, culminating in nearly one-third (31 per cent) of them taking at least one day of sick leave due to stress related to information, data and technology issues.

“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,” said Sanjeev Vohra, group technology officer and global lead for Accenture’s Data Business Group.

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

Knowledge is key

Accenture suggested that to succeed in data revolution, business leaders must help employees become more confident and comfortable in using data insights to make decisions.

It revealed that 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 that data literacy training would make them more productive.

“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,” said Jordan Morrow, global head of data literacy at Qlik.

“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.”

Fear of data costing Aussie businesses $13.8bn
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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