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As business data continues to explode, companies are increasingly aware of how critical data is when making impactful decisions. Data helps businesses understand customer behavior, streamline operations, and develop strategies. It’s a valuable resource and adopting a data-driven culture is essential if businesses want to take advantage of their data in an era where agility and innovation are crucial. 

A mere lack of data is no longer a barrier to building a data-driven business. The biggest barrier is accessing existing data and leveraging that data as a routine process for all employees across the organization.

Establishing a data-driven culture ensures that everyone has a data-first mindset and that they’re willing to make data a part of each decision they make.

Here are five key ways companies can push their internal data-driven culture initiatives forward:


#1 Ensure top-down adoption of the data-driven culture mindset

Managers and executives are critical to company-wide data initiative adoption. If employees see impactful data-driven decisions consistently made by leadership, they are far more likely to buy-in.

Establishing a data-driven culture will empower everyone in an organization to incorporate data into the everyday decisions they make for the business.

Executives should begin by establishing that they actively use data to make critical decisions. They also need to set a precedent by being transparent about how they are using and leveraging data on behalf of the business.

Leadership members who regularly back their project plans and tactical strategies with hard data also earn more trust from their teams. Leading by example, high-level managers can demonstrate that using data doesn’t just drive profit, it also makes teams more efficient, focused, and — ultimately — successful.

The next step is making it clear that each employee can use data in their job, regardless of the department they work in or their level of seniority in their current role. But it’s important to back up this claim. Data needs to be fully accessible to every employee in order for data-driven culture to flourish.

Read more: 7 Reasons Data-Driven Businesses Need Conversational AI


#2 Radically democratize data accessibility

In a truly data-driven company, it’s not just executives who leverage data to make decisions for the business. Everyone in the company needs to know how to access and use data to make their work more valuable and drive the business forward.

Making data accessible means eliminating data silos and ensuring that important information doesn’t become stagnant as it sits unused in spreadsheets or department-specific data warehouses.

A BI, analytics, or IT team might have sufficient access to all the data in a business, but if data usage needs to expand across the organization, everyone needs exceptional access to the data that is relevant to their role. Access to good data and the ability to act on it rapidly is what sets exceptional businesses apart from their competitors.

By implementing improved systems and new technologies that facilitate unprecedented access to data, more teams will be able to dip into previously siloed or hidden information, explore trends, and find insights that lead to actionable strategies, faster.

However, too much time spent implementing new technologies and onboarding employees can lead to inertia. Which brings us to our next point…


#3 Accelerate onboarding with innovative tools

For many companies seeking to roll out data-driven culture initiatives, a major hurdle is upskilling their teams to take advantage of data in the business. Many companies require their business analysts to know or learn code (such as database query languages like SQL) so that the engineering or IT departments don’t become the middleman between teams and the data answers they need.

But upskilling and insourcing between overburdened departments takes time and money. It also takes extra effort to convince individuals that upskilling is worth their personal ROI.

To successfully shift into a collective data-driven mindset, it’s crucial to reduce the friction of onboarding groups of people onto new software systems or processes.

Rather than asking people to learn new tools, instead, you can choose new technologies that adapt to a users’ capabilities. Opt for innovative solutions that enable intuitive user adoption and minimal learning curves for employees.

Organizations that implement tech solutions making data access more intuitive for all users have a running start when introducing this kind of digital data transformation. The easier it is for everyone to access information, the faster they can see for themselves how valuable data is for decision-making.


#4 Teach and encourage improved data literacy

While technology can help solve the issue of adoptable, democratized data access, companies still need to equip decision-makers at all levels with foundational data literacy skills.

Software solutions can make it easier to put data into understandable visualizations, and some programs offer easy-to-use slice and dice capabilities. But to find real value in this technology, humans working with the data must understand what the data is telling them. They must think critically about their observations and ask questions to solve problems and improve processes with that data.

Harvard Business Review found that analytics teams are lacking skills in data-driven problem solving. To be proficient with data, team members need skills they may not have been trained for in their current role.


5 Ways to Cultivate Data-Driven Culture at Your Company


Solidifying a company-wide, data-driven culture means that every employee becomes a citizen data scientist, equipped to access and take action on data. The best way to encourage individuals to learn more about data and how to use it is by implementing continuous education and incentives for improvement.

Leading by example from the top-down is a great start and introducing ongoing opportunities for employees to increase their comfort and skills when working with data is also key.Some resources to help you along the way include The Data Literacy Project and online learning platforms like Udemy.


#5 Create space for an ongoing conversation about data

As tech adoption and data literacy grows throughout a company, flexibility and continuous learning are essential for maintaining a high-functioning, data-driven culture.

There are two parts to this final step:

i. Constantly improve analysis and upskilling for data literacy

Having great data is secondary to understanding and solving problems by using it.

It’s important to have conversations where anyone analyzing the data can discuss their perspectives and explain how the decisions they propose or make correlate with their analysis.

All of your newly empowered analysts need opportunities to look at the data from multiple perspectives and learn new techniques as they progress.

ii. Performing maintenance and improvements to the solutions and processes that help manage data

Implementing data-centric solutions should never be a one-and-done operation.

Even with the most robust tech, it’s important to keep a pulse on data quality and watch out for inconsistencies. This will help those analyzing the data have confidence that they’re always accessing a single version of the truth.

Even with the most robust tech, it’s important to keep a pulse on data quality and watch out for inconsistencies. This will help those analyzing the data have confidence that they’re always accessing a single version of the truth.

Erica Lister and Keagan Perlette

Author Erica Lister and Keagan Perlette

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