Data Driven Culture Meet Data Driven Business – are we failing to adopt data into our organisations?

Data Driven Culture Meet Data Driven Business – are we failing to adopt data into our organisations?

Data Driven Culture Meet Data Driven Business – are we failing to adopt data into our organisations?

Posted by Samir Sharma

“Change, things just rearrange” Donald Byrd

Change in organisations isn’t new, it’s been happening for decades now.  In particular change that occurs due to a new form of technology that will make the organisation more efficient, processes streamlined, the people more collaborative etc.  We’ve all heard this many times over since the days of ERP and CRM, we have been talking about how change is hard on people and how projects of this magnitude ultimately fail due to there not being the “right culture”.

Now we have the introduction of another new concept “Big Data” (I want to drop the “Big” in this), and with it comes new technology that will be thrust upon people to make their working lives easier, as they will have data at their fingertips to make better, efficient, considered decisions about new products, interactions with customers etc.

STOP!  Many of us have heard the rhetoric about data and how it’s the “lifeblood” of the organisation, hail the new oil and so on!  How are companies adopting data into their organisations, and are they succeeding in doing so?  Are they achieving that competitive edge in the Promised Land!

Over to the analysts at PWC – a recent study looked at the failure of (big) data projects, and they found:

“Overall, 43 percent of companies surveyed “obtain little tangible benefit from their information,” while 23 percent “derive no benefit whatsoever,” according to the study.”

Why? The survey quantified further:

“…three quarters of organizations surveyed lack the skills and technology to use their data to gain an edge on competitors. Even further, three out of four companies haven’t employed a data analyst, and out of companies that do, only one quarter are using these employees competently, according to the survey.”

Ah, so now we are getting to the nub of the issue – a lack of skills and technology – and the fact that many companies haven’t hired a data analyst.

I’m a bit lost now – so are they telling me that hiring a data analyst will make their woes go away? Nope, not at all.  Hiring a data analyst in most companies will only isolate the issue to this individual.  Not their fault though, and in my experience all employees need to be “data analysts”!

I completely understand that there is a lack of skills out there, and probably not a lack of technology, probably too much technology, and companies are awash with vendors knocking on their doors saying that their technology will meet all their data requirements – may be true, in most cases it’s not!

So hold on, going back to the title we haven’t defined the statement “what is a data-driven culture”?  I used my search super powers and couldn’t find one!  Unlike me really, my wife defaults to me when there is a search quest as I’m pretty good at search.  Okay, time to make my own definition:

“…a data driven culture is one where data is weaved into the fabric of the everything the organisation does from making decisions, to creating a new brand, to enhancing products to deepening relationships with customers.  All done seamlessly without the employee even knowing that they are using data and so that it becomes their daily norm”

I’ve put myself out there now, and I’m running for the mountains to become a hermit…not really!!!

Oh look I just found a definition from the analysts at Gartner.  Gartner defines those companies that move toward a data driven culture as businesses that use data to “organise activities, make decisions and resolve conflict”

Which one do you like? (my virtual hand is up)!

How do we create a “data driven culture?”

The one thing that most people talk about is how people don’t change and it’s all down to the people element.  I don’t think that’s absolutely true.  We change all the time, getting married, moving house, changing job, buying a new car, walking a different way to work, reading a new author etc.  Maybe I’m wrong, however, I believe the mistakes that organisations make, is to put their trust to heavily in a piece of technology, and that the technology will lead the change that is required.  When it fails, the people are blamed as the ones that didn’t adopt the tech etc.

You may have a different opinion on this and I would love to hear from you.

In the area of data and culture, here are some tips I think will make for a successful data-driven culture and how data will be more effective in your organisations:

  1. Think about the objectives and value that your business wants to achieve first and leave the technology till last!
  2. Prioritise your business questions / use cases which are the most critical that will inevitably add the greatest value to the business
  3. Align your business questions / use cases against what decisions will get made or what actions will be taken
  4. Prioritise the business questions / use cases and create a value roadmap that allows you to understand how your data will start to make an impact in your organisation
  5. In parallel analyse the data that is required – yes use the data analyst – that you have hired – can you achieve your priorities based on the data you have?
  6. Now that you have done some analysis of the data re-evaluate your value roadmap of what can be delivered immediately that will have the most impact / value attached to it.
  7. This will enable you to focus on a quick win, and test a small enough set of data to better understand the business outcomes.
  8. Based on the use case gather the appropriate teams that you have been speaking to and start to create the types of KPIs / metrics that you need to track from your top priority. Example, your focus may be on analysing marketing conversion and you gather a small component of the marketing team who can articulate what they need.
  9. Now that you have a set of requirements, go out and look for the technology that will suit what you are attempting to do. Make sure you ask them a ton of questions about their technology, make sure you have a set of criteria and match them against it. Get cost of licenses or if cloud based platform costs etc.  Ask them you would like to play around with the tech as well or they can take a small sample of your data and show you how it will come to life.
  10. Now that you have the things that you require you can articulate this into a business case, with the value attached to it and the tech you would like to use. Yes, before we go and delve into buying anything we need to get some moolah!

In summary

Make sure you are looking at the value that you are creating first and technology last.

Create the business case and ensure you start small, and can scale when you have proven your hypotheses.

Take people on the journey – trust in their abilities and their understanding of their business – for example marketing people know what they need, not IT people – work with the business function to tease out requirements.  I have heard too many times that IT will go and build something and give it to the users once done – don’t’ do that – it won’t work!  IT have a massive role to play in this, I’m not knocking you, through experience, I’ve seen this happen before.

If people can see that you are focusing on the business outcome, and not on the shiny new technology, that will make for a better uptake of your end solution.

Last note, everyone in your business is a data analyst, give them access to the right data and make their lives easier, it will make your life easier!

Over to Charles Babbage:

“Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.”