5 Steps to Create a Data-Driven Culture

data culture

Demand for analytics professionals has become so intense, candidates can pick and choose among potential employers. One of the more important things they tell us they look for is the right culture: They want to work in an organization where data matters.

Given all the talk about Big Data we hear today, you’d think it would be easy to find employers who hit that sweet spot. But in truth, many companies are still doing relatively little when it comes to putting analytics to use. Despite their best intentions, it’s no small thing to shift from decision-making based on experience, personal approach and gut feel to a culture of data-driven thinking.

Changing the culture of any company, large or small, isn’t a task for the faint of heart. If you’re determined, though, think about how you’ll accomplish these five steps.

  1. Get Buy-In

It’s not enough for a single executive – even if they’re the CEO – to declare that henceforth data is the company’s driving force. Everyone in the organization needs to understand why data and analytics are important not only to the business, but to how they perform their jobs and the decisions they make.

You’ll have to invest both time and money in fostering the transition to a data-driven culture.

This means you’ll have to invest both time and money in fostering the transition. You’ll need to spend time and effort leading the transition, and you’ll have to allow employees at almost every level to invest the time in learning how analytics can be made to work for them.

As for money, you can’t expect everyone to pick up on even the rudimentary uses of data on their own. Your workers will need training and support in order to develop the skills necessary to innately recognize data’s value and put it to use.

  1. Break Down Silos

In many organizations, individual business units, departments or even teams keep track of and store their own information. But data works best when it’s shared across the organization, gathered and organized through a central function. In addition to allowing for more effective data sharing, centralizing data allows organizations to make better determinations about just what knowledge is important in the first place, thus helping to avoid information overload and making sure that the information being tracked is actually contributing to the business.

  1. Have a Champion

Or a group of them. According to the Aberdeen Group, 70% of companies that consider themselves “data-driven” have a senior executive who champions analytics. Meanwhile, an Econsultancy survey of more than 300 startups reported that some 70% had at least one employee dedicated to information-gathering and analysis.

Interestingly, while 27% of those startups regard having employees back up their decision-making with data as “crucial,” 51% also believe in “intuition and experience on their own.” The lesson: Data-driven organizations don’t use analytics in a vacuum. Let your data scientists think and express their opinions.

  1. Use the Data

Sometimes, people spend so much time analyzing information that they fail to act on it. Other times, companies spend great amounts of time and money gathering data, then fall back on their old habits of gut-feel or intuition-based decision-making. Both types of business may call themselves “data-driven,” but they’re obviously not. The truly data-driven organization views information as both strategic and tactical – as something to be used actively, every day, in every part of the business where it can be logically applied.

The truly data-driven organization view information as both strategic and tactical.

  1. Invest in the Tools

The technology behind Big Data is evolving rapidly, and there are almost as many opinions about what’s the “right” platform as there are options to choose from. In any case, make sure someone is charged with staying abreast of the rapidly changing landscape. Allow your analytics professionals to participate in the process by encouraging them to work with IT in analyzing new technologies and their capabilities.

None of this is easy, but candidates can tell when a company’s not walking the walk. If you want to attract the best data professionals, you’ll have to demonstrate that your business regards data as central to its strategy and operations.

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