Establishing a Data-Driven Organizational Culture

Companies that have successfully cultivated a data-driven culture reap a multitude of benefits, from better employee understanding of the value of data and how to apply it to decision-making, to a widespread commitment to backing up ideas with data and measuring outcomes across the board.

Advanced analytics lie at the heart of today’s digital businesses, but success requires a shift in organizational culture. To be data-driven requires an overarching data culture that couples a number of elements, including high-quality data, broad access and data literacy, and appropriate data-driven decision-making processes. In this post, we’ll review some of these key building blocks to help you get started.

Help your employees understand how to use data

When making important strategic decisions at your enterprise, you probably reference relevant information. These likely include revenue projections, sales reports and competitor analyses. In other words, you use data to drive decision-making. 

For your employees, using data shouldn’t be the goal in its own right. Instead, you should explain the value of data: drawing insights. To accomplish this, you must give your employees space and time to understand the data they’re working with. If your organization’s leaders take this approach, employees will feel less overwhelmed with the cultural change.

Don’t overlook the need for training

For many employees, advanced analytics may be a somewhat new concept (at least, in the context of a data-driven organization). It’s important that leadership helps bring everyone onto the same page regarding their data knowledge. Training is essential for several reasons: 

  • Preventing information overload: Too much data can overwhelm employees and distract them from extracting the insights they need. Every department—and your organization as a whole—should have key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics to guide data usage.
  • Using tools efficiently and correctly: It’s easy for employees to get lost in data if they aren’t sure how to use the analytics tools they’re given. Make sure your employees receive training on all relevant tools for their position. 
  • Understanding data flow within your organization: Let's say your marketing employees routinely review a dashboard that covers all department KPIs. They should know how to navigate the data behind these metrics.

Your organization needs to have the right resources in place

Establishing a data-driven organizational culture necessitates the right educational resources. When it comes to data, this means having the tools needed for employees to adjust to data-driven workflows. These include: 

  • Single source of truth: A centralized and controlled data source the entire organization can reference. Every department likely works with different systems, so having an SSOT ensures that everyone is using the same information. 
  • Data dictionary: In order to be successful, your employees need to know what your data fields and metrics mean. Data dictionaries include clear definitions of data fields and metrics to avoid confusion and assumptions.
  • Broad data access: Employees should be able to access the data they need to fulfill their roles in this new data-driven culture. For management, this means assessing the data needs of each employee to make sure appropriate access is given.
  • Data literacy: Your employees must be able to read, understand, create and communicate data as information. This can include trainings on introductory data science, descriptive statistics, data visualization and inferential statistics. 
  • Decision making: Data can only make an impact if it is actually incorporated in the decision-making process. Ensure your making data an integral part of your business models and day-to-day workflows. 

Data-driven organizations reap huge rewards

Changing the culture of an organization never happens overnight, so be patient, take your time and start small. Bringing about this organizational change can be challenging, but the reward is an agile, data-driven organization.

One MIT study found that data-driven companies enjoyed 5–6 percent higher output and productivity. That’s not all—a report by the Aberdeen Group found that data-driven organizations can enjoy a 27 percent increase in year-over-year revenue.

Ready to build an agile, data-driven organization? Contact us to get started.

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