Data-driven organizations begin with a data culture

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Organizations, no matter the industry, are facing a daunting challenge — obtaining, organizing and ultimately gleaning value from the large volumes of data in their possession.

Over the next few years, the world will produce data at a projected rate of 463 exabytes per day. Ten years ago, the world’s entire digital storage capacity was only marginally larger. As organizations have to handle larger volumes of data, they also need to ensure they’re producing valuable data. There are existing processes to do so, such as extracting and transforming data for analysis. However, for this to truly be effective, organizations need to introduce a culture of data across the entire organization, not just within traditional data teams. 

As organizations continue to prioritize deriving value from their data and leveraging it across the enterprise, data teams need to work and interface with other lines of business. Doing so will generate a strong data culture and, ultimately, allow businesses to become data-driven organizations. 

To make this happen, organizational leaders can take the following steps: create a mutual understanding across teams to overcome barriers, identify how data impacts the entire company and clearly demonstrate the value that teams are providing end users.  


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Create a mutual understanding across teams

Regardless of whether data teams have been traditionally centralized or distributed across an organization, mutual understanding and alignment — regarding where data is being sourced and how it’s used — is vital for success.

One of the best starting points for organizations establishing a mutual understanding of the need to switch from a process-oriented mindset to data-oriented one. To be data-oriented is to have a data-centric mentality: To value data over processes and to enable easy access to the data that will inform decision-making. In the end, this switch fosters a strong data culture because everyone has bought into using the right data from trusted sources.

In addition to adopting this mindset, teams across an organization need to understand the importance of being data-oriented to ensure full engagement for later success. To do so, leaders across the company should outline the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind data orientation to their teams: why data orientation is important; why and how it impacts their roles; how they can take steps to be more data-centric.

Explaining this importance and ensuring that individuals know why they need this mindset and how to implement it will help the entire organization adapt. 

Identify data’s internal impact

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that the only people that can handle and understand data are data teams.

However, there are many roles within an organization that in their own unique ways generate valuable data and intelligence. For instance, reporting and analytics teams integrate and transform data to make it more digestible for less data-focused teams in the form of reports or dashboards. Leadership teams need to be taking advantage of this information and using it to make stronger, data-driven decisions. Similarly, the marketing or sales department can also use data to augment team efforts and fulfill customer needs faster. 

Along with each of these steps, business leaders should call out the impact that data is having across teams, as well as what these different teams are doing to up-level their work.

Doing this will show the larger organization the diverse impact of data. Identifying this impact internally is another great step to building up a data culture. 

Data’s impact on the end-user

Data can have multiple impacts on your customers, such as making processes more efficient and increasing the speed at which organizations can complete a task. Most importantly, it allows customers to make more informed business decisions that are based on data rather than instinct or guesswork. 

With a deluge of data and different data sources, it can be easy for teams to get overwhelmed and misaligned when sharing deliverables. Aligning different teams within an organization to work together and focus on delivering incremental value creates a cohesive data-driven culture with minimum team friction.

Working in smaller increments also ensures that teams are prioritizing items for the end user at any given time. All this will show the organization what its work achieves and reiterate the importance of building a data-driven culture — and ultimately, that the organization is truly becoming a data-driven organization. 

As organizations strive to make their data useful and establish data-driven cultures, an entire organization needs to be on board. By creating a mutual understanding across teams to overcome barriers, identify data impacts, and clearly establish the value data brings to end users, leaders can augment their teams’ data-centric culture.

Once organizations are able to implement this across the board, data becomes useful — subsequently increasing business value and efficiency for the enterprise. 

Ian Funnell is manager of developer relations at Matillion.


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