How to create data culture

05 December 2021

Visual representation of data culture

 

Data and analytics have generally been accepted as the focal point of many companies today. The industry has realized that many of the functions that were previously time consuming and relied on a variety of personnel and files can be automated. However, no matter how much you automate or how advanced your models are it all relies on the ability of coworkers to make use of that information.

Until quite recently decisions have been made depending on what one or maybe two people think should be done. This approach is not bad per se, the people making those decisions are generally in that position due to their skill and ability to make the right decisions. However, over the past twenty years our ability to generate and aggregate data from all matters of business functions has increased dramatically. Today we can not only measure the impact that we see online or in our marketing, instead data is generated in the physical world as well with the introduction of more widespread internet of things usage.

So how does this translate to an organization? Is it still reasonable that the people making the decisions based on their strong business acumen should do so? And if not, how do we create a culture within an organization that looks to the data first and opinions second?

Making a change

I believe that the analysis of data can never replace the person that has a great understanding of their organization’s value proposition. However, those opinions should now be grounded in the data that is available. 

This might sound easy at first, but the change from acting on gut feeling and instead letting strong business minds guide the search for data is more complicated than it seems. In fact, it is probably one of the most significant shifts we have seen in the market. It implies that people need to learn how to use and analyze data in order to get the support they need in the decision making process. 

Making such a change is not only a change in techniques but also a change in behaviour. Looking at fortune 500 companies most have implemented systems that allow for recurring data analysis but still struggle with fully implementing it throughout the organization. This is generally due to the fact that culture and the way people do things are hard to change.

This generally leads to data being generated and analyzed, but it is often more as an outcome of a previous activity rather than the foundation of activities going forward. Having a data driven culture implies that decisions are made with statistics backing them. As previously mentioned this requires that people understand what they are looking for and what they are looking at. 

A clear strategy

There are no easy ways for an organisation to create a strong data culture. It generally starts from the top with clear directives. Organisations also need to identify so-called data champions. These are people who might not be data analysts right now, but that have the drive and understanding to learn. Training colleagues that already work in the organization has the added benefit of them already knowing the value proposition and where to look. 

These so-called data champions can serve as teachers and spread the know-how and use of data throughout the organization. By doing so they eliminate a large part of the burden that the management layer experiences when the whole workforce needs to be trained simultaneously. 

In general good systems and data management is at the heart of becoming data driven as an organization. It is, however, of great importance to have a clear strategy for how these tools should be implemented throughout the organization to get the best value out of this shift. 

 

If you feel the need to either develop systems that allow for instant insights or strategies that help you make the transition from traditional an organization to a data driven organization to hesitate to contact us at hello@sthlmstratlab.se