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The data culture: all talk, no action

The means to become data‑driven are here. The point is, we don’t know how to use them.

a close-up of some green cables

Markus Spiske/Unsplash.

Every journey towards becoming data-driven is unique. Yet, there is a certain aspect that every organization needs to work on, which is establishing the data culture.

Data culture can be described as the way an organization sees data and is able to use it in its decision-making process. Furthermore, it signifies a need of infusing a company’s talent pool with beliefs and practices that are pushing them towards making decisions through a connected, data-driven process – with the efforts to transfer it into a competitive advantage.

There are also a few pillars that should be supported, such as transparency, clearly defined goals, effective communication, commitment and inspiring leadership. Creating a data-driven culture takes time but is highly beneficial and definitely worthwhile.

Challenges of building a data-driven organization

But despite all the benefits, only 24 per cent of organizations say they’re data-driven – according to a new report by the NewVantage Partners.

At the same time, though, strong investments in data initiatives can be seen, as 99 per cent of the companies surveyed in the same report declare active investments in AI and Big Data.

Additionally, in Exasol’s recent report, “90 per cent [of surveyed business leaders] said that achieving data democratization is now a priority for their business and that they are taking the necessary steps to achieve it”.

That’s easier said than done though. So why exactly is becoming data‑driven so challenging?

It comes down to the most important piece of the puzzle – the people. An organization will not become data-driven if it is just wishful thinking of a few at the top. Every team needs not only to understand what the change means to the organization as a whole but especially, what it means for them and why is it beneficial. So, in short, the cultural challenges are being underestimated. The “wants” are present, but there is a lack of willingness to put in time and resources towards the data-culture transformation of all teams.

Change the aspire into the inspire if you want to catch up with the digital future of today.

Lessons learned

Have no fear, although the journey may be full of difficulties, there are many examples of companies who made it through.

From the U.K.’s most valuable fintech – Revolut, through the world's leading entertainment service – Netflix, to the one making travel insurance smarter – Allianz Travel Insurance, these companies have proven that the data-driven mindset can help you triumph.

Many more world-famous companies could be mentioned here, but there are some less known (for now, at least), definitely notable. One of them is Genki Forest, of which the data-driven approach towards product iteration can be named as one of the reasons the company grew rapidly in the last 5 years and is currently valued at $6 billion.

Directions for starting the data-driven journey

  1. Start by identifying your why and defining your goals. These need to be articulated clearly throughout your organization’s boundaries.

  2. Determine how exactly is data being perceived in your organization. Maybe you need to build a solid foundation first? Embed data into your organizational value system.

  3. Poor data culture will hold your business back. Take action towards a shared data perception, as well as improving the data literacy of your employees. They do not have to be data wizards but they should feel confident to speak the ‘data language’ if they wish to draw meaningful insights based on it.

  4. Take advantage of the

    cutting-edge technologies

    that can support your data aspirations. Invest in the solutions that work best for you, do not fear innovative ideas, and give guidance to your employees so that they can use the new technology effectively. They should feel that it is for them, not to replace them.

Whether or not you decide to make use of the conclusions drawn in this article, one thing is for sure, the data-driven transformation needs to happen if organizations want to outperform, or even keep up with their competitors.

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