4 Tips for Successfully Building a Data-Driven Culture

Posted by Dale Treece, Data & Analytics Practice Lead

Mar 11, 2021


Data is more than just files and information. It drives what your company does every day. Good data drives better business decisions by allowing you to establish benchmarks for optimizing operations to better meet your goals.

When you’re developing a data strategy, you must focus efforts around successfully building a data-driven culture within your organization. This is especially important as the business world continues to make increased investments in big data and artificial intelligence.

1. Enabling YOUR Data-Driven Culture

Google-drive-for-collaborationA data-driven culture is unique to each organization. As our friends at Looker note, it can be loosely defined as:

A community made up of data-driven individuals across all departments and levels. These communities are where everyone is empowered to use data critically, make decisions and start conversations rather than close them down.

So how does this description fit into your organization? Do you often face widespread resistance to suggested institutional change initiatives? Do you struggle to define goals and implement new processes? Or does your organization grab new ideas and run with them?

All of these considerations define how your organization will respond to a cultural shift. How do you envision data-driven culture and what will it take to make it a reality? Often it’s better to tackle a phased approach to change. It’s usually more effective culturally than instituting sweeping changes all at once. Enablement tends to come much easier in steps than grand gestures.

2. Get Buy-In from the Top

In any organization, if leadership doesn’t buy into an idea, then it’s likely that idea will fail. At some point during any change initiative, you will have to approach the leadership for their blessings.

Why wait until the process is underway? Instead, make sure all key executives align themselves with this cultural shift before you start building a data-driven culture. You want them on board during the visioning and planning to approve costs, weigh-in on strategy and help rally the troops to embrace this new cultural focus. Launching your effort with a top-down approach drives success.

3. Empower and Educate Your Stakeholders

Building a data-driven culture involves ensuring your employees become data literate. Data literacy is the ability to read, understand and communicate by using data. Do your employees already know how to do this? Chances are some of them do, but this needs to be an organizational-wide effort toward supporting your data-driven culture.

Engineer proceeding to data recovery from computer

Yes, you need to train your staff, but as our partners at Looker say:

Data literacy is more than a sum of skills.

This means that beyond tactical analytics training, your workforce needs to experience every day the fact that data isn’t scary and that, instead, it’s a valuable, powerful tool that helps them do their jobs better, smarter and faster. Again, it comes down to empowerment, enablement and effective change management, led from the top down.

You might want to even consider hiring data analysts or managers with data-driven culture experience to help lead the charge with your internal stakeholders. Employees with data experience can help spread excitement across the organization and work with teams to make them feel more comfortable with analytics daily.

4. Entrust Your Workers with Your Data

A data-driven culture means nothing if your teams are unable to easily access your data, even files at the most basic level. You want to create a culture that gives users more access to data rather than restricting them from it. Democratize it. Entrust them with it.

Side view of three artists working on computer at the office

This action allows your internal stakeholders to make better, more informed decisions in what they do every day, whether they are designing a new product, testing ideas or collaborating on reports. It breaks down silos across departments and lessens the distance between rungs on the proverbial corporate ladder.

Democratizing data also means people can get the institutional knowledge they need quickly. This can speed decision making, production and time to market, delivering more value, more frequently. Using Looker or similar data platforms can simplify this task and comfortably empower your teams and enable them to make smart decisions based on analytic data.

Ebook: Modern Data Strategy

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Dale Treece, Data & Analytics Practice Lead

Dale Treece is the Data & Analytics Practice Lead at Onix. He has been working with organizations of various sizes to organize, structure, and use their data to advance their business goals for over 35 years. Through data & analytics modernization, Dale helps businesses become agile, ready to scale, accelerate their path to innovation while improving overall performance and reducing costs.

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