Data is the new water, they say, and every organization who has data pouring in from multiple sources — e-commerce, apps, website, ERP, POS, inventory, social, and more — is rich in resources. But only If you can collect the data, process it, and use it to grow.
Here come the promises of data technology vendors: we will turn your data, regardless of source or format, into useful information. And you will be able to magically turn into a data-driven organization.
There is no denying that data leads us to sound decisions. An early McKinsey study reported that users of customer analytics are 19x more likely to be profitable and 23x better at customer acquisition. We don’t need a pie chart or bar graph to tell that data = good for business.
While we at Stratpoint certainly support robust data platforms such as AWS, Confluent, Cloudera, and Tableau, we believe that the road to becoming a data-driven organization starts with a data culture. To quote Gartner researchers: “The data can only take an organization so far. The real drivers are the people.”
If you are a company at the beginning of your data journey, we highly recommend that you review not just your infrastructure but also, and just as importantly, your culture. In our experience as a data solutions provider, these are 5 common elements found in a data-driven culture:
Transitioning into a data-driven organization does not happen overnight. The very first thing that we need to take care of is mindset.
If you are starting from manual reporting and having silos of information, there will be resistance. Data can be perceived as more tedious work because manual reporting under different silos is a lot of tedious work just to comply with minimum requirements.
Changing people’s mindsets means changing how people think about and behave around data as a basis of making decisions. Data will have to seep into all aspects of business. Everyone has to agree, regardless of role, department, or rank, that data-based information trumps anecdotes, or tradition. People can challenge other people’s ideas too, based on data.
All these new practices do not necessarily mean extra work. In fact, after the initial stage of learning new technology and standardizing the processes, data users will find themselves becoming more efficient and intuitive at using data in their everyday work, later on associating data with improvement, growth, and success.
At the root of a strong data culture is trust. Leaders trust that people are capable of using and protecting company data. People trust that their data is the most accurate source of truth when it comes to the status of their business.. And everyone trusts that each of them will be using company data to advance a common goal.
Through policies, trust is embedded into the data culture. Team members are trained in data quality and standards, ethics, and best practices.
It’s easy to dump all the data responsibilities on the IT team or the analytics team. But in a truly data-driven culture, everyone is enabled to understand and use data in their own work.
Stratpoint has its own data team trained in data architecture, implementation, and analytics. But to uphold a strong data culture, apart from in our data projects, we use data in sales, marketing, HR, and finance. We don’t need to ask our data analysts, for example, to analyze traffic on our website or to spot trends in our sales performance. Our sales and marketing professionals use Google Analytics and Pipedrive to do this themselves. In business reviews, each department presents their work backed by data.
We need to do away with silos. When one team refuses to share information with another team, the former creates a blind spot, which can cause the latter to make misinformed decisions. In an organization with a strong data culture based on trust, people share data access and knowledge, and help each other get to the truth every single time.
Data skills are also shared. A Data Center of Excellence may be formed to hold basic and advanced data training, as well as provide updates as regards data trends in the industry.
Data-driven cultures treat data as an asset. They do not just collect and store data for the sake of collecting and storing data. They use data in reporting, designing processes, analyzing performance, and creating products. They commit to realizing and growing the value of their data assets by making data-based decisions.
This kind of commitment requires executive leadership to sponsor the company’s commitment to data: a Chief Executive Officer to set the vision, a Chief Data Officer to implement it, a Chief Technology Officer to support it, and a Chief Financial Officer or Chief Marketing Officer to represent the line of business.
How strong is your data culture?
Apart from having the right technology, having the 5 elements of a strong data culture above is crucial for an organization to be data-driven. In Stratpoint, we help our customers establish not only the infrastructure but also the people aspect of a data solution.
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