A report from the McKinsey Global Institute uses the word "average" 53 times.
An average is a summary measure that reporters, researchers and others can use to capture some aspect of the data.
Averages are useful, because they offer a snapshot - but they can also be deceiving, because they can hide variation in the data.
In this chart from the report, we can see that the data ranges from 37% in one industry, to 98% in another. The "average" is 66% - and that's the figure that McKinsey appears to use on the web page that offers an overview of the report's findings.
But as a smart consumer of data, you should ask yourself:
- What would happen to the average if you excluded professional services - the only industry over 80%?
- Are they talking about the "mean," which is what many people think of when you say "average"?
- Is this a weighted average, or is every industry treated equally?