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Cultivating An Effective Data Culture

Prashant Momaya, Head, Customer Consulting, India, Tableau

Most companies today understand the value data holds; from an early stage start-up dreaming of unicorn status to a Fortune India 100 enterprise chasing the next USD 1 trillion valuation, data 'is' the fuel for organizations eyeing their next milestone. As more companies focus on data, it’s worth noting a team of data scientists with access to their pick of technologies does not equate to a data-centric organization.

The conversation of today is increasingly focused on how to better mine value from data and make this second nature within companies. This points towards a broader cultural shift within companies.

Establishing a truly data-centric culture means every single person - regardless of expertise or tenure - should be enabled to make better decisions based on data. If data is accessible and made ubiquitous across all layers of an organization, it helps every employee maximize value across all corners of the enterprise to transform not only their roles or teams, but entire industries. Leveraging analytics at scale not only empowers people to make data-driven decisions, but can also help future-proof organizations by sharpening their competitive edge.

The reality of the situation for businesses of today though is that most are still struggling to make this a reality.

So what can businesses do to achieve a data culture?

1. Build analytics proficiencies
People need to be able to read, write and talk in data if companies are to be successful in empowering their people with data. This is what we call data literacy. And this isn’t just about understanding how to interpret data. It is also about understanding if data is being used in a

misleading way - whether intentionally or accidentally.

It is a big organizational shift and there’s bound to be apprehension and fear from employees as they see the importance of analytics being advocated internally. Leaders must think beyond policies, systems and organizational charts to deeply consider the human element of analytics adoption and why this is so often a barrier to developing a data-first atmosphere.

It is crucial to provide the right tools and trainings to foster a sense of enthusiasm and preparedness in casual business users. To break long-held habits and encourage the use of data beyond a core group of analysts, organizations should invest in educational opportunities to help the entire workforce become more data-literate and explore ways to create a streamlined data experience for newer users.

The reality of the situation for businesses of today though is that most are still struggling to make this a reality

2. Govern through Empowerment
A strong foundation starts with an attitude of openness, backed by the proper controls. These days, knowledge workers are expected to use data as the basis of their decisions and they will find a way to use data with or without the support of IT. Similarly, restricting access to tools for analysis also has its consequences. Employees may create their own data sources in spread sheets or download unsecure tools. The result is over abundant data silos that are unsecured and uncertified, and unsecured tools that open up the company to security risks.

It is important to govern with an integrated approach by empowering employees and providing a balance between business and IT. This starts with providing a better user experience that encourages employees to use the tools provided by IT and ensures that this user experience is compelling enough to allow people to do what they need to and accomplish business objectives. This way, people would be drawn in and more willing to go through levels of training and certification to get access to a system that serves them well, and effectively, insights through self-service analytics.

3. Create a community to share and learn
Culture succeeds when people come together to share, ideate and collaborate. Similarly with data, creating a community that helps each other will drive adoption as employees see that they have a community to rely on to learn from, ask questions and get support. Communities within companies can share and grow by holding data visualization-competitions, internal user groups, doctor sessions to help fellow employees with any issues they’re facing and more. A community will not let you fail and this is the backbone of creating a successful data culture in any company.

We are only at the beginning of analytics ubiquity. Businesses need to understand and be committed to a broader cultural change in order to derive the most from its data. If you put data in the hands of employees who understand the language of data and provide a network of people to learn and share from, the opportunities are endless.

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