Every modern company is looking to exploit the potential of data and analytics. It’s the key to advancing business productivity and innovation and maintaining a competitive edge. Data-driven companies hold the top 10 spots for the most innovative organizations on earth. 

But though many top companies, like Amazon, can be considered data-driven organizations, the majority continue to struggle to gain and scale benefits from their data and analytics initiatives. Just 20 percent of data and analytics insights produce business outcomes, and a mere 39 percent of executives think their company treats data as an asset. Only 13 percent of executives think their organization’s data strategy is actually delivering. 

The truth is that its very challenging to become data-driven and effectively distill value from data and analytics. Surprisingly, technology isn’t the culprit here behind these challenges, but rather the lack of an organization-wide data-culture.

Smart workflows, democratized data and streamlined interactions between machines and humans are expected to be commonplace by 2025. With the accelerated pace that technology is progressing and the growth of data literacy, the need to invest in and champion data culture has never been greater.

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What is Data Culture?

Data culture is shared beliefs and behaviors of people in an organization to enhance decision-making and business performance by valuing, practicing, and advocating data usage. This ensures that data is embed throughout every facet of the organization, including mindset, operations, and brand identity.

Characteristics of a robust data culture include:

  • All people within the organization are empowered by the necessary insights to be data-driven and leverage data to address the biggest business problems
  • The entire organization works together to lead with data
  • Data is prioritized in all business and decision-making processes
  • Data and analytics are connected to business outcomes
  • Understanding of how to securely share data at scale and improve accessibility to the right data at the right time 
  • Executive and stakeholder buy-in for increased investment in a cohesive architecture for data sharing
  • Employees are empowered to explore how innovative data techniques can quickly address business problems
  • Employees are able to focus on valuable, complex tasks and ongoing performance improvement rather than mundane, repetitive activities
  • The organization is positioned deliver meaningful employee and customer experiences
  • Data assets are managed as products for customers and internal teams alike

How to Implement Data Culture

Research proves that a data culture enables businesses to leverage the entire value of their data. But as the saying goes — easier said than done.

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A data culture can lead to improved employee satisfaction, increase profits, quicker speed-to-market, and the ability to attract in-demand talent, among other benefits. Implementing a data culture is a journey, but below are some steps that organizations can take:

  • Evaluate the level of data and analytics proficiency, ensuring that all business functions and management levels are included in the assessment
  • Show how the company’s overall business strategy can be improved with a strong data strategy
  • Develop a strong service culture in the business, beginning with C-Suite, who should use data to make decisions on everything from growth to risks
  • Nurture data literacy so everyone in the company is equipped to access relevant data, obtain insights, verify assumptions, and enact unbiased and ethical decisions that best serve stakeholders
  • Build consistent services based on high quality data and proven KPI measurement frameworks
  • Exploit technology that offers role-based access and a single source of truth to help build, support and sustain data culture 
  • Ensure that insights and decisions are driven by data rather than hierarchy, like job position
  • Instill a baseline of ethics, responsibility and accountability into all data practices.
  • Distill performance improvements into manageable goals and milestones
  • Consistently upskill and train employees who are not in analytics roles to use data and analytics in their daily tasks
  • Establish and encourage career paths that allow non-technical employees to leverage data
  • Attract new talent with in-demand analytics skills
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Yes, a Strong Data Culture is Achievable

Data culture is foundational to every data-driven business. Don’t be afraid to fail fast and iterate, embrace a new mindset of critical thinking and imaginative innovation, and be patient on this journey. Big successes start with small victories. 

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About the Author

Ronald Van LoonRonald Van Loon

Named by Onalytica as the world's #1 influencer in Data and Analytics, Automation, and the Future Economy (Tech), Ronald is the CEO of Intelligent World and one of the top thought leaders in Data Science and Digital Transformation.

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