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Creating a Data-Driven Culture Is Crucial to Your Analytics Success

Ask anyone in business about the importance of data, and the answer is likely to be the same: information and insight are crucial. The effective use of data can have a dramatic impact on performance, says the Harvard Business Review. Yet, while the gains are potentially great, the research also reveals that placing data at the center of decision-making does not come easily to everyone.

Your organization will have to work hard to create a data-driven culture that supports workers who act in a fact-driven way, rather than relying on gut feelings. Here are five best practices to create an insight-led ethos at your business.

1. Get Comfortable With Softer Data Sets

It’s one thing to know how many products your business has sold, but it’s quite another to understand why certain goods are popular or how customers feel about your services. While it’s a straightforward task to measure sales and revenue, it can be a challenge to define success in terms of softer trends such as sentiment and relationship management.

Yet these less clearly defined elements are increasingly crucial in the digital age. Successful companies listen to feedback and adjust accordingly, and businesses will need to source this softer data from multiple touch points, including email and social channels. Businesses that can mesh hard facts with customer sentiment data will be able to develop a much fuller picture of current fashions and future trends. To create this nuanced insight, you must be able to trust your data, and you’ll need to make sure your organization can become comfortable with softer data sets that don’t always offer the precise results of sales figures.

2. Ensure You Have Top-Down Leadership

To develop a successful approach to more varied data sets, your business must have a top-down commitment to the value of information and a commitment to let the data tell the story. A data-driven culture is unlikely to become embedded if it doesn’t have strong support from company leaders. With this support, the day-to-day responsibilities can be distributed throughout the organizational hierarchy. Your company will need people at all levels who are responsible for data-led change.

Analyst Gartner says making analytics part of the business strategy allows data professionals to assume new roles and create growth. The appointment of a chief data officer (CDO) can be beneficial. Organizations that use CDOs create organization-wide initiatives for information management, data quality, and business analytics. Appointing a CDO can help your business ensure that information is a differentiating competency.

3. Develop a Structure Where Goals Are Clear

Companies that inject big data into their operations show productivity and profitability rates 5 to 6 percent higher than their competitors. Performance-related measurement ensures that your firm can view results in key functional areas, such as return on investment for marketing projects or customer-centricity in sales. Successful businesses recognize that the more they can tie performance to clear measurements, the more likely it is that employees will understand the value of a data-driven culture.

You will also need to ensure that successful employees are rewarded for their game-changing efforts. A business with a data-driven culture makes recognition central to operational activities. When great results are apparent, applaud these wins. Innovative ideas by individuals at all levels of the organization should be celebrated.

4. Establish the Right Role for Technology

The right systems and services will be crucial to measuring performance for successful projects. Nevertheless, even though big data and analytics technology will be key, they should not override all other project elements—particularly communication.

Look for technology that helps you foster a collaborative work environment. If you’re going to empower people through data, your business will need to give employees the tools to make decisions. Rather than requiring employees to call IT for data, give them the wherewithal to self-serve: provide open, internal access to information, and empower your staff to experiment with the data.

5. Develop Clear Stewardship Around Data

While experimentation is crucial to success, your business cannot afford to let flexibility turn into anarchy. Much of the information used to create game-changing ideas will be of a sensitive nature.

Gartner suggests that a lack of effective business leadership and involvement in data initiatives can mean data analytics attempts that fail to deliver expected value. Pilots and experiments are frequently built with ad-hoc technologies and infrastructure, without production-level reliability in mind. A CDO can play a key role here, helping to ensure data use is effectively governed across all day-to-day roles. With strong stewardship, your business will be able to demonstrate that its flexible use of data is also compliant with legislation, such as the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation.

Higher-performing businesses have strong, data-driven cultures. By taking this approach, your organization will be able to benefit from a whole new level of insight into business operations. The success of a data-driven approach will become evident as your organization develops a better understanding of its processes, unlocks the power of innovation, and sees the long-term impact on customer satisfaction.

If you’re committed to being a data-driven company, download this white paper on the five missteps you should avoid on your big data journey.

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