The dreaded data ditch. You might not even know your organization is stuck in it – the company might still be acting on gut feel as opposed to relying on data, the data you have might be ungoverned and inaccurate, or you’re waiting weeks, even months, for your teams to glean useful insights.

You’re not alone. Data leaders like yourself keep falling into the data ditch. 

Let’s begin to unpick and discover how you and your peers got stuck in the data ditch in the first place, and more importantly, how you can climb out…

The Data Ditch inception 

We didn’t go looking for the data ditch; it found us. In our recent Data Maturity Impact Report, we noticed something unusual. We interviewed 500+ SMEs and enterprise companies and, as well as assessing them ourselves, we asked them to assess their own data maturity against eight separate pillars: 

  • Data Ethics
  • Data Maturity
  • IT Architecture 
  • IT Security
  • Privacy by Design (PbD)
  • Collaboration 
  • IT Cost Management 
  • Data Insights 

We then asked the companies questions to match up the pillars to where they were in their data maturity stages:

  • Stage 1. No concept of using data 
  • Stage 2. Underappreciative of data value
  • Stage 3: Basic use of data but is inconsistent
  • Stage 4: Data is securely available but not fully governed or relied on
  • Stage 5: Depend on data and understand its value
  • Stage 6: Data is at the core of the business and used strategically 

Here’s where it got interesting…

Data Maturity Impact Report - Graph


Businesses investing in data maturity, but implementing poorly, will fall into the data ditch. They’re better off doing nothing…

I’ve observed that most people have an inflated sense of where they fall on this spectrum, especially if they weren’t mindful about how they were moving along the stages,” says Tessa Jones, our VP of Data Science Research & Development. Demand is coming in but the company lacks the infrastructure to support it. There’s no clear vision of how to deliver. The frustration begins to mount.

This happens because in stages 1 and 2, there’s excitement, drive and buzz around data maturity, but in stages 3 and 4, the trough of disillusionment hits. 


Why are people so far off the mark?

There’s no ulterior motive behind why people are misjudging where their company is. It’s the essential human trait: aspiration. As Tessa Jones puts it: “If you haven’t lived in a stage 6 environment, you’ll think where you are is how far you can go”. 

Put simply: it’s perception versus reality – we don’t know what we don’t know.



What does the data ditch actually mean? 

The ditch is especially dangerous as profitability, productivity, everything drops in stages 3 and 4. On paper, it would look like the project is failing, according to Tessa Jones:

I’ve observed the red flags flying in earnest: you’re worse off than when you started. You’ve invested significant money and resources but haven’t yet realized the full potential which will lead to reduced costs, reduced risk and increased revenue. It gets darkest before the dawn, and dawn in this case is the ascending line of profitability, productivity, employee retention, customer satisfaction in stages 5 and 6. In my opinion, the data ditch is the embodiment that it gets worse before it gets better. But, if you persevere in the right way, it will get better.


How to dodge the ditch…

As humans we’ve got very good at collecting data but it’s a whole other beast to know what we then do with it. Often, people seem to be drowning in the very data which could set them (and their insights) free. 

My key questions are how do you distill this data into something meaningful and useful?” adds our Data Science Research & Development VP. “How do you simultaneously build the infrastructure underneath it to support your changing objectives? There’s a lot to juggle. There’s not even a broad-stroke answer for setting up your organization structure to beat the data ditch. I’ve seen companies with matrix, hub and spoke, and data pods all have issues with the data ditch”. 

The one tool you can use to overcome the data ditch might have some rolling their eyes: a robust data strategy. Let’s break it down… 


Creating a robust data strategy

Building a thorough data strategy was the one thing companies had in common when it came to beating the data ditch. 

Your data strategy should move through planning, execution and financial backing. It’s more likely to be effective if you incorporate these pillars from the outset:

  • Data Ethics
  • Data Governance
  • Data Insights
  • Privacy by Design 

Between these pillars, you’ll move more consciously through the data maturity stages and be braced to encounter and overcome the data ditch when it happens. Even if it seems overkill at the beginning to be mapping out deeper complexities such as data governance, this stands you in good stead to avoid the data ditch – and unleash the true value of your data.

For more information, read our Data Maturity Impact Report or listen to the webinar we held with our technology partner, Matillion, on “Why do Data Leaders keep falling into the Data Ditch”.



“Why do Data Leaders keep falling into the “Data Ditch”?

Available to watch On-Demand

Join Calligo’s Tessa Jones, VP of Data Science Research & Development, and Matillion’s Enterprise Account Director, Dan Harris, as they discuss the Data Maturity Impact Report and the Data Ditch (plus what you need to do to get out!)