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Establishing a data-driven company culture in your organization

Establishing a data-driven company culture in your organization
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Data is about encouraging organizations to question rather than observe. In doing so, businesses can evolve, foster new revenue streams and create a future-proof business model. However, growing into a data-led business can only become a reality when the people within the organization are willing to embrace a data-driven culture.

In the modern business, a data-driven culture is a network comprised of like-minded individuals across multiple departments and levels. Members of these communities are encouraged to use data in a critical way, to inform decisions and to spark conversations rather than shutting them down. Unfortunately, organizations that have neglected the importance of this culture shift, or haven’t invested in the advancement of employee data literacy, are struggling to succeed.

In the meantime, competitors charge ahead - driven by the democratization of data and the ability for all to access, understand, and communicate with it. Employees are educated and empowered to make data-driven decisions to ensure the business is set up for success – with no bottleneck to get insights thanks to the foundations put in place by the data teams who support the culture.

Unfortunately, creating – let alone maintaining – a data culture isn’t as straightforward as simply telling employees to make use of the available platforms. However, there are several steps that organizations can take to encourage an internal data community.

Make your mission statement and goals data-focused

Data should be fully incorporated into an organization’s strategy. Businesses should avoid aiming for generic placeholder mission statements and instead embrace concrete objectives that shape business behaviors.

These objectives should be actionable, relatable and accountable so they can be effectively consolidated into departmental objectives. In addition to this, creating data-related objectives, such as agreeing on the definition of business metrics cross-departmentally, improve governance and accuracy of analysis.

Spark your internal data community

It takes a like-minded community of individuals to foster a culture, not just one person or one team. For a data culture to succeed, those responsible for human resources and recruitment should be urged to include statements like ‘’data-driven” in job descriptions so the business is attracting individuals with that mindset from the very beginning. It is also important to tap into that goldmine of data-savvy and data-thirsty colleagues already present across every department!

Work to form a ‘guild’ of employees with similar passions for data across the business. This means an extended group of individuals who sit within different business functions can help roll-out data-driven, cross-departmental initiatives. Assembling relevant resources and running interactive sessions will resonate with their respective areas of expertise, skill sets and levels of engagement. Take stock of any other wider business initiatives and consider whether efforts can be combined to make the impact of data felt more widely.

For online automotive marketplace, Auto Trader, one iteration of developing a strong data culture was by establishing a “data academy” to upskill employees with online courses tailored according to their roles and data personas. This ranged from developers building models to internal users viewing and leveraging pre-built dashboards, as well as everything in-between, encouraging the whole workforce to integrate data more deeply into their day-to-day jobs.

Build an inclusive company performance dashboard

Of course, employees appreciate the feeling of having an impact on overall company performance. Numbers like revenue, profit and number of clients, can initiate great discussions and begin to demystify ‘data’ as a term.

Incorporating these in some company-wide dashboards can help to spark end-users’ curiosity and get them more involved in building a data-driven culture.

Not just beneficial for internal numbers, performance dashboards also help generate critical insights for those in customer-facing roles. Auto Trader worked with their sales team to build impactful performance dashboards to help the business have more data-led conversations with its retail customers. The team is now quickly able to analyze and drive action based on performance indicators for ads, search appearances, views, quality and leads.

Be engaging and present data in a digestible way

‘Data’ can be an overwhelming term for individuals who are new to it. To take the scare factor out of data, why not showcase some fun metrics that individuals will appreciate tracking. This could be data about hours volunteered against a yearly objective, the number of multiport adaptors lost this year per department, or even snack consumption on a quarterly basis!

One way to implement this practice is to capture activity levels like steps, hours of sleep, or calories burned and create some healthy competition between departments. This encourages collaboration and begins to build a true data culture.

A data platform’s key to success is establishing a strong data-driven culture. This mindset will create a sense of unity among the workforce and enable employees to be a part of an internal data community.

  • Zara Hawkins, Head of Data Culture and Transformation, Looker at Google.

Zara Hawkins, Head of Data Culture and Transformation, Looker at Google.