~9 minute read
As business data continues to explode, companies are increasingly aware of how critical data is when it comes to making impactful decisions. Data helps businesses understand customer behavior, streamline operations, and develop strategies. It’s a valuable resource for bettering business overall. Adopting organization-wide data-driven culture is essential if businesses want to take full advantage of their data in an era where agility and continual innovation are crucial.
Lack of data in itself is no longer a barrier to building a data-driven business. The biggest barrier is accessing the data that exists and making the exercise of leveraging that data an automatic, routine process for all employees across the organization.
Establishing data-driven culture ensures that everyone has a data-first mindset and that they are willing to put in the work 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
Top managers and executives are keystones in the archway of company-wide data initiative adoption. If employees see impactful data-driven decisions consistently made by leadership, they are far more likely to buy in.
The goal of establishing data-driven culture is to empower everyone across an organization to incorporate data into the decisions they make for the business on a daily basis.
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 that regularly backs 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 to make it clear that each employee also has the ability to use data in their job, regardless of what 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.
#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 data doesn’t become stagnant as it sits unused in spreadsheets or department-specific data warehouses.
A BI, analytics, or IT team might have moderate to 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 affects or is affected by their role. Access to good data and the ability to act on that data 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 looking to roll out data-driven culture initiatives, a major hurdle is upskilling their teams to take advantage of data in the business. For example, 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 have to play the middleman between teams and the answers they need from their data.
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 complete a successful shift to a collective data-driven mindset, it’s crucial to reduce the friction that arises when onboarding groups of people onto new software systems or processes.
Rather than asking people to learn new tools, instead, choose new technologies that already adapt to the users’ capabilities. Opt for innovative solutions that enable intuitive user adoption and minimal-to-no learning curves for employees.
Organizations that implement tech solutions that make 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 ensure that decision-makers at all levels of a business are equipped with foundational data literacy skills.
Software can make it easier to put data into consumable 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 in order to think critically about their observations, ask questions, solve problems, and improve processes.
Harvard Business Review found that analytics teams are lacking skills in data-driven problem solving. To be proficient with data, team members need a variety of skills they may not have been deliberately trained for in their current role.
Solidifying data-driven culture company-wide 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 to implement continuous education and incentive for improvement.
Leading by example from the top-down is a great start, and introducing ongoing opportunities for employees to increase their level of comfort and skills when it comes to working with data is also key. Some resources that can 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 improving analysis and upskilling for data literacy
Great data is secondary to the ability to understand and solve problems using it.
It’s important to have conversations where analysts (in this new state, this constitutes anybody analyzing the data) have the opportunity to discuss their perspectives on the data and explain how the decisions they propose or make correlate with their analysis.
Analysts need to be presented with opportunities to look at the data from multiple perspectives and learn new techniques as time goes on.
ii. Performing maintenance and continuous improvements to the software and processes that help manage the 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 the quality of the data and watch out for inconsistencies so that those analyzing the data have confidence that they are always accessing the single version of the truth.
It’s vital to make sure that barriers to data access are continually minimized, and that data isn’t being siloed as new software or systems are brought into the organization’s workflows.