Build a Data-Driven Organization

September 20, 2018

Contributor: Sarah Hippold

Data and analytics leaders must engage and train their entire organization to become data literate.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data,” said Sherlock Holmes. The words of literature’s most famous detective ring true nearly 100 years later. Organizations today should take note, as the potential for data-driven business strategies and information products is greater than ever.

“The goal is to build a data-driven enterprise,” says Mike Rollings, research vice president at Gartner. “And although digital business thrives on data and its analysis, we still see that data and analytics only plays a supportive role when it comes to business initiatives. This has to change.”

“ By 2020, 80% of organizations will initiate deliberate competency development in the field of data literacy, acknowledging their extreme deficiency”

Rollings adds that data and analytics leaders — especially chief data officers — should be at the forefront of that change, and shares key steps that data and analytics leaders can take to make their organization a data-driven enterprise.

Spark ambition

Transforming into a digital business is the number one priority of most organizations. However, a digital business cannot exist without data and analytics. If an organization struggles with digital transformation, perhaps they haven’t given enough thought to data and the potential for valuable insights.

“Many digital business priorities will remain aspirational if you don't articulate the data and analytics dependencies,” Rollings explains. “And CDOs need to work with business executives to identify data sources, data quality issues, types of analysis and new work practices needed to use those insights. Many times this leads to the realization that data-driven opportunities cross organizational boundaries and require operating model changes to achieve the intended outcomes.”

Align responsibilities

Many enterprises face a major shift when considering their data-driven ambitions. This shift does not simply change the allocation of work; it changes the nature of their business and the nature of work related to data and analytics. Data and analytics must be woven into everything. This shift doesn’t occur without an executive who is focused on making it happen.

“The chief data officer (CDO) is the best role to maximize the data and analytics value in the organization,” Rollings adds. “If your organization does not have this executive role, push for its creation. Not every company needs to adopt the CDO title, but every company does need someone to adopt the tasks of prioritizing or leading its data and analytics strategies.”

The CDO office should have responsibility for data and analytics strategy, data and analytics governance, data literacy among the workforce, and establishing a data-driven culture.

Close the competency gaps

A modern data and analytics organization enables both centralized and decentralized work while creating a center of gravity for critical competencies that ensures consistency of practices and collaborative insight creation. Instead of simply creating a service center or leaving business areas on their own, an enterprise must realize that there are dozens of competencies that will be practiced to some degree by all parts of the enterprise. For example, analytics, data management, data sciences, information stewardship and information product management, to name a few. Being data-driven is a team sport and requires collaboration, as well as effective and ongoing training programs.

“Gartner predicts that, by 2020, 80% of organizations will initiate deliberate competency development in the field of data literacy, acknowledging their extreme deficiency. Data and analytics leaders should evaluate and close competency gaps today to secure the data-driven enterprise of tomorrow,” Rollings says.

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