Why data culture is a priority
There is no precise path to becoming a data-driven company. Some organizations may focus on building a team of expert analysts, while others may invest in technology or integrate analytics into their digital transformation strategy. Companies that have been in business for some time have to face the most complex challenges, such as transforming already consolidated processes or convincing leadership that is reluctant to change.
“Whatever the type of company, the creation of a data culture is one of the key points to becoming a data-driven organization” analytics expert Cindi Howson said in her speech at the latest MIT Chief Data Officer and Information Quality Symposium. Howson, who is currently ThoughSpot's Chief Data Strategy Officer and was previously Gartner's Research Vice President for data and analytics, pointed out that in a recent survey of CIOs around the world, 61% of the sample expressed the opinion that the propagation of a solid data culture in a company is the key to success.
But what does data culture mean?
Each data-based practice must therefore be integrated within a data culture. But what is data culture? It is the set of collective ideas and behaviours that shape the ability of an organization to transform data into information, knowledge and insights capable of guiding decisions and actions to produce positive business results.
In general, culture is defined by people and what they consider to be behavioural standards and expectations. Established and widely accepted standards and expectations become group habits and can represent the first step toward data culture, which is defined by what people think, say and do with data. In practice, a good data culture occurs when, for example, data is treated as a strategic asset of the company, making it widely available and accessible, and its use is integrated into the decision-making process, with a solid belief that data helps everyone perform better.
If data culture is an important ingredient, it is not enough by itself to create a data-driven organization. Equally important are data governance and the functions of managers who play critical roles in the creation and maintenance of a data-driven organization.
How you become data-driven
Becoming a data-driven company is more than just collecting data and reviewing it now and then. To be truly data-driven, an organization must tackle every decision by analyzing the relevant data and letting the conclusions obtained to guide the direction of the company. By developing a solid data culture, each decision-maker can use the data that the team has standardized and made accessible.
This culture can be developed by working on the following four dimensions, enabled through technologies suitable for the collection, analysis and reading of data:
- Data literacy: If individual decision-makers are not sufficiently informed on how to organize their data and turn it into information that can guide decisions, the data will never give a concrete value.
- Data maturity: the data maturity of an organization manifests itself in every individual in the company who has an appropriate level of access to the "clean" data they need. The establishment of the role of Chief Data Officer helps to achieve a high level of data maturity.
- Data-driven leadership: A data-driven leader supports data culture by demonstrating how decision-making is data-driven and appropriately empowering team members to make decisions so that they too become data-driven.
- Data-based decision-making processes: the company should establish a structured decision-making process and hold subsequent reviews of these decisions. Furthermore, to achieve maximum value, data must be an integral part of decision-making processes.
To conclude: being a data-driven company does not simply mean managing data better to be able to analyze it and therefore have more information. It is a concept that goes much further and first of all requires an awareness of the relevance of data for corporate performance. As an integral part of the business strategy, data must be the basis of all processes because every decision must be made by analyzing the appropriate data.