Only 12 Percent of Data Collected is Ever Used

Emerald Summer by Lauren Adams

Emerald Summer by Lauren Adams


Govloop shared this stat in a post last and it got my attention.  If someone had asked me for the percent of data analyzed vs. what's collected, I would have guessed less than 100 percent but wouldn't have gone that low.  

The other thing that struck me was that-- for as much time as my client and team spends thinking about data-- we'd never examined their issues with field-level buy-in, demonstrating progress, or general forecasting from that perspective. So, I think it's a great, highly quote-able stat.


It has shock value. Also, it came from a Forrester Research survey so it has credibility.  I did a little digging and found this reference on their site for more information.  It's unclear if this report on hadoop contains the survey data but if you're interested in the exact citation, that would be a place to start.

Here's an excerpt... "In a recent Forrester survey, technology execs and decision-makers ranked data-related projects at the top of their list for importance and investment. Why? Companies seek deeper insights from the massive amount of data at their disposal but estimate that they are analyzing only 12% of the data that they already have, leaving 88% of it on the cutting-room floor."


If you work with data-- and, really, who doesn't-- you can use this reference in two ways.  

  1. From an analytics perspective: Use this single little stat to launch a review of the body of data you/your client collects. Consider the data fields you collect as an entity and asset unto itself. Pull the list of fields into a spreadsheet, then make tabs for all of your common report queries with the lists of fields they're pulling.  Calculate the stat for your organization.  From the stuff that isn't utilized, figure out quickly if you can stop collecting it or find a way in the next 3 months to use it.  I suspect that a lot of these fields aren't used because some people are populating them and others aren't.  So there is no confidence that the data is sufficiently complete to be relied upon for any analysis.  To overcome this, just keep what you can use in the near-term and let folks off the hook for collecting everything else.
  2. From a communications perspective: Take this stat and the one you calculated for your organization and share this in your next leadership meeting. Outline your plan for increasing the use select fields and plan to sunset everything else. Both scenarios represent a win in data use and time savings for data elimination.

Robin Camarote

I'm the co-founder of Federal MicroConsulting and strategic planning consultant based on Falls Church, VA. I am intent on helping leaders get more done with fewer headaches by outlining clear, creative strategies and solutions that build momentum and buy-in at all organizational levels. In addition to consulting, I write regularly for,, and Bloomberg Government on leadership and how to increase your positive impact at work. She is the author of a best-selling book on organizational behavior entitled, Flock, Getting Leaders to Follow and Own It: Drive Your Career to a Place of Happiness and Success. I live with my husband and three children in Falls Church, Virginia.