Enterprises that have successfully managed to cultivate a data-driven culture have the potential to reap a throng of benefits. This can be anything from a better understanding of data value to its role in decision-making while measuring outcomes across the board.

As a result, companies must strive to develop a data-driven culture to remain competitive in this fast-paced global economy.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, data-driven businesses that are able to collect, process, and analyze data in real-time are able to make better decision. Further, when your processes are data-driven, there is a 6 times greater likelihood of customer retention, 23 times greater likelihood of customer acquisition, and 19 times greater likelihood of profitability.

Those numbers are staggering and reinforce the importance of big data in big enterprise. But cultivating such a culture isn’t an easy task for most companies. Especially if you’re just beginning to incorporate data throughout your strategy and business processes, this will be even harder to instill within the organization.  

Further, there may be instances where employees are not that tech savvy and therefore face challenges in embracing data-driven methodologies.

So how does one go about building a data-driven culture within an organization?

The Foundation Must be Built on High-Quality Data

To get everyone on board, you must first give your employees a good reason to trust your data. So it all starts with the quality of your data as uncertainty will make people reluctant to rely on data. This is where a data scientist can jump in and make a difference.

Data scientists aren’t just number crunchers, they’re professionals who do so much more. Good data comes from good management, so your data scientists should know it inside out.

The ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) should have processes to perform data cleansing and integrity rule checking. Further, Master Data Management (MDM) must be included for dimensions of gathering data from multiple sources and referential integrity. It should also be evaluated each time data is loaded.

Businesses need to leverage the data analytical skills of the data scientists to build robust data quality metrics (aka Key Data Indicators (KDIs)). This can then be used to educate the workforce about how your data measurement methods actually work.

Talk about Data Analytics in Each Stakeholder's Language

Not everyone within your organization is going to understand data analytics, as a result, it’s a good idea to get someone on board who can explain it without all the industry jargon.

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You can also adapt the rhetoric to suit the department and explain how data analytics can enhance the processes within that department.

Words like “analytics” and “data” may not mean anything to a lot of people. Further, these words might even have a negative bias when it comes to certain individuals. So it’s always better to communicate with staff across the board in language that’s more suitable and easier to understand.

Give Data Power

Data credibility comes from the power it has over a company. So think about it like an organizational leader or manager that has power over staff to make things happen.

Although data is never going to possess any real power, it can both wield coercion power and reward. I’m not in the business of promoting the utilization of coercion, but it can be as effective as reward.

In my experience, using measurement as a means to reward staff for desired behavior makes a big difference. It can essentially help build credibility pretty quickly. It can also create a sense of urgency to incorporate data analytics in vital business processes.

Build Empowerment

To make this really work, you need to build a coalition with the leadership. Everyone in a position of power needs to be on board with building a data-driven culture. Once you have that, you can work on developing your vision and communicating that vision with your employees.

Further, your staff will need to feel comfortable with raising concerns about how the data is being leveraged. This is important to identify and tackle any obstacles that may pop up down the road, head on.

All staff concerns should be reviewed, considered and addressed if real change is to take place. So ensure that processes are in place to enable employee empowerment.

At the end of the day, data can only take your business so far, the real drivers are your employees!

Short-Term Wins are Important

Once you have your employees using data analytics to drive businesses process, you’ll have to work on maintaining this organizational cultural change. One way to do this is to savor the success of winning projects. Further, you should also recognize the efforts that lead to that success.

It’s a good idea to tackle the easy projects first as it won’t require heavy investment of capital or staffing resources. Further, these projects will have the added benefit of a shorter life cycle.

As a result, it will be easier for project managers to define specific objectives and goals that can gain momentum and foster a sense of accomplishment.

With each data-driven success story, leaders within the organization should keep seeking out other opportunities to solidify data as an asset to the business.

And what's your take on this?

Andrew Zola is a freelance writer, designer, and artist working in branding and marketing for over ten years. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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