The Key to Establishing a Data-Driven Culture

November 30, 2015

Contributor: Elizabeth Dunlea

Understand the characteristics, structure and limitations of a data-driven culture in the digital workplace.

With a variety of analytics tools on the market, more organizations are feeling data-savvy. But the desire to be data-driven does not equate to acting intelligently on that data, according to Alan D. Duncan, research director and Frank Buytendijk, VP, distinguished analyst at Gartner. Rather, an organization must recognize the characteristics of a data-driven culture and identify opportunities to introduce relevant behaviors, in order that evidence-based decision making becomes a core part of the digital workplace.

“The data can only take an organization so far. The real drivers are the people.”

A community or company culture is built upon attitudes and beliefs that are passed down via material and habits through generations starting from inception. The same theory can be applied when creating a data-driven culture. The initial architecture sets the foundation for the habits and processes around the use of data.

Constructing a data-driven culture

A key characteristic of a data-driven culture is using data in a pervasive way. Data-driven companies establish processes and operations to make it easy for employees to acquire the required information, but are also transparent about data access restrictions and governance methods. These processes then impact the likelihood of enabling more mature techniques such as prescriptive analytics and creating a 360-degree view of the customer.

The data can only take an organization so far. The real drivers are the people. Analytics leaders must bring in the right talent, lead by example and know when not to rely on data. In any decision-making process, data is a key consideration, but moral or political factors can supersede what the data shows. Alternatively, leaders can be so focused on what the data is telling them, they miss opportunities to innovate.

But what about negative data? The kind of information that can ruin careers or brand image? There have been several memorable examples in the last few years of companies that failed to address or admit damaging corporate information and saw catastrophic results. A data-driven organization turns those data sets into opportunities, to get ahead of the situation and proactively respond.

Treating data like an asset

While 80% of CEOs claim to have operationalized the notion of data as an asset, only 10% say that their company actually treats it that way.

While many companies rely on data every day to make decisions or to create a better customer experience, few treat it as a business asset. By establishing value and responsibility for the information, it makes it easier to measure – which makes up the emerging discipline called infonomics. This also helps organizations to address data gaps, keep information aligned with business strategy and maintain data quality so decisions are not made on bad data.

Next steps:

  • Exhibit example behavior by stressing data-driven decision making
  • Hire data-driven people
  • Ensure data-driven performance reviews and goal setting


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