Making data count: The essentials for building data culture in organisations

AvatarUma Ganesh | April 26, 2021 |

It is extremely important to help business stakeholders identify and articulate their business problems in terms of targeted outcomes and measurable metrics

Most organisations have started accepting the new reality of data being the new ‘oil’ and therefore they are keen to exploit the advantages from their data and build a successful business strategy around it. Towards this goal they are hiring top talent and also building new capabilities within the organisation for data interpretation, building suitable data models, developing critical thinking and data analysis.

However the key to success with the investment in building data centric business is to create data culture in the organisation. As per Mckinsey Report, data culture is decision culture and it helps in tightening up the nuts and bolts of the business. In other words data culture is not an end goal but is an ongoing journey—one in which organisations manage to create the discipline of making effective decisions based on data, develop the mindset to make it a regular practice. Unlike the traditional method of making decisions based on hunch or consensus or reliance on the seniority of managers in the organisation, insights and evidence enable data driven organisations to make timely and well-informed decisions.

Data culture is not about being sensitive about the importance of data and investing in technology alone. It starts with the commitment at the top with the shared vision to make data the DNA of the organisation. Leaders need to exhibit confidence and clarity on how data would become integral in every action of their business thus motivating the employees to develop a similar approach in their work.

Data skills would have to be embedded in every role and while hiring new staff there should be a conscious attempt to look out for those with such skills. Further the KRAs of employees should include weightages for data related deliverables for every role and rewards and recognition should be linked to their achievement.

Since data is a valuable asset for the business specially when it is cleaned up, is accurate and is categorised well, it should also be accessible by all concerned as required. This involves putting in place a good data governance and security system with trust factor being central to it. Data being generated using different systems will require a good method to collate and integrate so that users spend minimum time in organising their requirements for deriving insights.

Evangelising the change to embrace data centric operations is the other essential pre-requisite for the transition to data culture. The business values that can be derived from the use of data needs to be stressed and demonstrated from time to time to get the buy-in of all concerned.

Organisations should also establish a code of conduct and call out ethical and privacy risks in order to set clear expectations with all stakeholders on the possibilities with data engagements. Often those who are tasked with the responsibility of data management are focused only on the the processes around data related problems and not work closely with the people who use and manage the data.

To build a successful data culture it is important to help business stakeholders articulate their business problems in terms of targeted outcomes, measurable metrics, expected financial benefits and other quantifiable deliverables. Hence it is not the data managers alone who can usher in the data culture—it is the partnership with business teams that will lead to an impactful change.