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Corporate Strategies, Data

5 Ways to Build a Data-Driven Culture

General Assembly
December 4, 2023
5 Ways to Build a Data-Driven Culture

What do ship captains and business leaders have in common? 

They both need to navigate through stormy and calm seas, constantly charting course across uncertain and hostile waters. While captains often turn to their maps, radars, and compasses, business leaders need to turn to their data.

Data helps you nail down the strategic plan for achieving your business objectives. Data keeps you on course. And data enables you to change course when needed. 

But here’s the thing — your business is a large vessel with multiple departments (like a large luxury liner) that must succeed in their respective journeys. One misstep in one department could affect your overall company journey. 

All departments must know how to handle their chief navigation equipment — data.

When data-driven decision-making becomes a company-wide practice, it positions your business for sustainable success. Data-driven companies are 58% more likely to exceed their revenue goals. 

So, how do you cultivate a culture where every department leverages data to succeed in their roles? And have everyone collectively steering your organization towards its goals? Let’s find out.

What’s a Data-Driven Culture? Benefits and Components

A data-driven culture prioritizes data usage in all decision-making across the business. Data isn’t merely a buzzword. It’s a crucial part of all strategic plans. 

A culture that values data-driven insights recognizes the need for data proficiency from employees beyond traditional data roles. 

When it comes to data-driven culture, it’s not something you foster by writing a memo indicating your company’s desire to become data-centric. You need to develop data-literate talent — employees who can combine data science and analytics skills  — to interpret and use data. 

These data skills bridge the gap between data and decision-making, positioning data as a universal language within your organization and ultimately creating a data-driven culture. From there, employees across your organization are empowered to harness the potential of the data at their disposal for better decision-making and outcomes.

According to a Harvard Business Review survey for Google Cloud, companies that excel at extracting business value from their data outperformed their peers across critical performance indicators:

  • Revenues (77% vs. 61%)
  • Operational efficiency (81% vs. 58%)
  • Customer loyalty and retention (77% vs. 45%)

Adopting a data-driven culture also positions companies to improve employee satisfaction, IT cost predictability, and more.

What are the building blocks for making a data-driven culture a reality? Let’s dive in.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Science: Shaping the Future of Workflow

The evolving roles of data and artificial intelligence in your organization’s workflows mean leaders must adapt.  

To stay ahead of the curve, you need to be open to new ways of managing and utilizing data within your processes, understand how AI can revolutionize your work, and make necessary adjustments to take full advantage of these changes.

Data Ethics and Privacy: Navigating Tomorrow’s Ethical Landscape

Leaders must also understand the importance of data ethics and privacy regulations. Then, lead the charge in educating employees on the need to abide by those rules. 

To create a data-driven culture, you need to have clear and comprehensive guidelines and policies on data ethics, privacy, and security that employees can use as guardrails. 

“There are things we demand about our data and how we treat and consume it. There are expectations that if I get the data, I treat it safely and effectively. If I transform or move it, it’s where most people can get to it with the controls in place,” says Cameron Davies, Head of Corporate Decision Sciences, NBC Universal (NBCU).

Harnessing Data Insights for Future Decision-Making through Advanced Visualization and Statistics

Along with AI and data ethics, leaders need to navigate how combining sophisticated data visualizations with statistical analysis can empower their teams to gain deeper insights from data. These deeper insights lead to more informed, effective decision-making — and a true data-driven culture.

Five Ways to Drive Organizations Toward a Data-First Mindset

1. Define Your Data Strategy

A well-defined data strategy is the framework that guides how data is collected, managed, and used to drive business success. Data strategy ensures you gather the correct datasets and establish a clear path for its meaningful application.

What key data elements should you define? Establish the types of data to collect, data quality and governance standards, data storage and management practices, and data analysis and reporting procedures.

2. Win Hearts at the Top: Embrace Data in Your Role to Gain Leadership Buy-In

Getting leaders at all levels of your organization to commit to data-driven decision-making sets an example for employees. It lowers their resistance to change.  And it encourages them to embrace and trust data.

Start by adopting data in your role. Extend the idea and benefits to other leaders and invest in training and tools to empower employees to learn how to effectively practice data-driven decision-making.

3. Develop and Deploy a Training Plan for Your Organization

Deploying a comprehensive data skills training plan is another catalyst for a data-driven culture. It ensures that all employees, including leaders, possess the necessary skills to collect, analyze, and interpret data effectively.

Choose the right partner with the data training expertise and experience to deliver the results you need (spoiler — it’s us). 

4. From Learning to Doing: Applying Data Skills for Success

A company-wide switch to data-driven decision-making won’t happen overnight. But you can speed up the transition by providing learning opportunities that include practical ways employees can apply their new skills. 

To expedite your data focus, be sure your data training program has:

  • Well-defined learning goals and outcomes. 
  • Structured criteria for judging expertise, such as better data-driven communication and reports, specific projects, and more.

5. Measure and Report on Success 

Set learning goals for leaders and other employees. Doing so ensures your training efforts contribute directly to your organizational objectives. The goals also provide the basis for measuring the impact of your data training program on employee and business performance.

Performance reporting from a trusted training partner like us can help you easily monitor these goals and report on success in real-time. This type of deliberate performance tracking also allows for necessary interventions and adjustments to the training approach whenever needed. 

Believe in Data and Change the Game

In Boeing’s Chief Information Officer, Ted Colbert’s words, “When people begin to believe in the data, it’s a game changer: they begin to change their behaviors, based on a new understanding of all the richness trapped beneath the surface of our systems and processes.”

Get started today and help your organization thrive in a highly competitive and data-driven world.

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