Developing a Data-Driven Culture

By February 8, 2017Analytics, Data Discovery

“Information is not communication.” While Launching a Leadership Revolution’s Chris Brady references public speaking in this particular excerpt, that statement is easily applicable to our digital era. By now, the buzzword-fueled explosion of “big data” has settled and established the new norm, and organizations in the know have been amping up their data analytics game to get ahead – and stay ahead – of the competition. Experts agree that the key to success in the Information Age is ensuring that your workplace promotes a data-driven culture. According to InformationWeek, the “data-driven” organization is a concept that not all executives understand. “Data-driven” is not the same as being generally “data-savvy,” and it does not limit its usage to data scientists or the IT department. Even if you have a stellar IT staff, without utilizing data in business strategy, there is only so far that your team can go. Forbes quotes IBM Chief Executive, Ginni Rometty, stressing that “if [businesses] choose to ignore data analytics, they will not survive.”

With big data analytics platforms, data can easily be accessed by different departments in an organization, and this sharing assists in cross-departmental collaboration that results in richer insights. (And insights drive solutions, which then drive profits, and profits tend to make people pretty happy.) Embracing a data-driven culture means that any employee can look at data, see what information that data provides, and translate it to their teams. That is how information becomes communication. A recent article adds that with any employee being able to understand data reports, it empowers everyone to contribute confident ideas, “because they will have the data to support their thoughts.” More on that later…

Now, if you bear with me, I’ve collected three main focuses that experts recommend for your business to adapt to a data-driven culture –

Metrics, metrics, metrics.

Sorry, that’s not all three points in a single sentence. That was misleading on my part. Anyway, NG-Data’s compilation for culture development claims, “you manage what you measure.” Every single person you employ should understand what metrics are important to your company; knowing the what, why, and how of each indicator tracked. Metrics in data also confirms fact over opinions, bias, or guessing. If a team member proposes a new idea, great! But where is the research to back it up? (Told you I’d mention it later!) Training employees to present data with their suggestions safeguards businesses by referencing fact and lowering risk in decision-making. Founder of Correlation One, Sham Mustafa, praises analytics for this advantage: “Data reduces uncertainty and drives better decisions…data is a part of the core business strategy.” Incorporating big data into your business strategy and applying it to the sales funnel drives clearer choices. The article from Ladyboss supports faster fact-based decision-making, and adds that it actually will “improve their workforce cohesiveness” by reducing business-related arguments. With data analytics put in place, using metrics to back up results, there is less reliance on instinctual judgement and more resolve placed in the facts.

What a sigh of relief, am I right? Less pressure on the organization and surer results? Phew!

The second focus shouldn’t come as a surprise to any business leader: to succeed, you need strategy. (Wait, what? Strategy? Planning? Don’t be ridiculous.) But wait, there’s more! NG-Data says that with the embrace of the data-driven culture, “teams are more apt to seek out data to help fine-tune strategies and objectives and can take a more active role in measurement and analysis.” So, utilizing data helps sustain strategy as well! Leaders need to develop clear strategies for implementing more data usage into the workplace and that data in turn will assure stronger stratagem to produce revenue. The Business Journal provides three practices for these strategies. (Wow, a helpful list inside of another helpful list? Data inception! Or the blog equivalent of a turducken, I’ll leave it to you to choose which mental image is preferred.)

1. Integrate multiple big data strategies. The most efficient companies leveraging big data today are merging strategies.
2. Build a big data capability. Construct a team with different skills; IT, analysts, statisticians, business managers… This team needs to work as a unit for the data-centric culture to be implemented successfully.
3. Create a big data policy. Policies regarding social media, compliance, security, and privacy, all being mindful of the user experience.

“If workers lack direction and don’t know what actions to take – or if the right processes aren’t in place to enable employees to make improvements – data initiatives will stall.” – Gallup Business Journal

Finally, this brings us to employees. It is the people that make the data-driven culture really happen. Organizations should be determined to educate their teams on what role data analytics are going to play in the workplace, and what tools they need to access the information that these analytics will reveal to them. InformationWeek’s post states that data being held back from users “frustrates efforts to use data strategically,” and the organization then suffers from internal fragmentation. While most leaders wish to avoid fragmentation, and integrate data into their companies, these enterprises that have not focused on education may find that their teams are “less technically savvy” and will face challenges adjusting to new practices. Paul Bertin says that when it comes to creating a data-driven company culture, it “emerges from the people who make up your company…Data does not drive the company. People are the drivers.” Technology doesn’t threaten employees, and a data-driven culture doesn’t mean that your team comes second. It takes a partnership of people and analytics; the data-driven workplace uses reporting and analytics to underline their successes.

Information is not communication. Information becomes communication. When your business blends analysis with people, instinct meets insight and sharper evaluations are executed and attained. Joshua Jones of StrategyWise asserts that “to create an ecosystem in which data-driven culture thrives, you have to have a strong balance of strategy, IT, and statistics, all working in harmony.” Statistics and strategy should merge in the sales funnel, and data is a tool to support suggestions from people.

What role do you think big data has in the corporate world?

In today’s challenging business environment, companies that thrive are those that are committed to the continuous improvement of their business and the processes that run them. At Surefire Data Solutions, we are helping organizations operate smarter with the Qlik Platform.

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