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Probiotics for Business: 5 Ways Data Culture Helps Businesses, 5 Best Practices to Get There Faster


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It’s no secret that organizations are inundated with data, and yet still struggle to derive business value from their data. Data-driven insights are key to success digital transformationand leading industry analysts point out that the value gap often stems from a lack of data culture across the organization.

To outperform your peers, you need data-literate and data-driven people; In short, you need a data culture. Establishing a data culture for your business is like adding probiotics to your body: it can help organizational health in measurable ways.

5 Ways Data Culture Helps Businesses

Growing and maturing your data culture provides:

1. Preventive medicine for “black swan” stress

As all organizations have learned in recent years, world-changing events such as regional conflicts, pandemics, or extreme changes in weather add challenging levels of volatility to future planning. Establishing a data culture ensures your teams are ready to use predictive and prescriptive analytics as early warning systems for rapidly changing conditions.

Data culture helps prevent the extreme shocks of these events by ensuring that the insights needed for rapid time-to-market and supply chain pivots are ready and can be acted upon.

2. Performance drivers for competitive pressure

Industry analysts note that organizations with a mature data culture get a health boost for their business. Across multiple dimensions of health, including customer satisfaction, time to market, employee productivity and profitability, data culture leaders see significantly more improvement than laggards.

3. Access to nutritional data to support decision-making

Data-driven insights are food for innovative and optimized businesses. By developing and maturing your data culture, every part of your organization has more access to these ingredients and can confidently make data-driven decisions.

And companies that lead in using data-driven decision making outperform their lagging peers. As reported in the sloan reviewnearly 50% of data-driven leaders exceeded their business goals in the past 12 months, compared to just 22% of laggards.

4. Life extension through business resilience

Business longevity everywhere is in long-term decline. Ferret Research shows that “the average 30-35 year tenure of S&P 500 companies in the late 1970s is forecast to drop to 15-20 years this decade.” This trend is expected to accelerate further, in part because the past is no longer reliable in predicting the future.

Strategy and decision-making have traditionally been based on historical experience, historical data and “gut feeling”: in the “new now” those sources are at best less relevant and at worst , can lead to catastrophic missteps. Business resilience is stronger in these changing times where decisions are derived from real-time data streams and AI-infused predictive and prescriptive analytics. But it takes a data-literate organization to take advantage of these disruptive technologies.

5. Risk reduction for ESG and compliance

Organizations with a mature data culture not only gain a competitive advantage in our “new now” but are also better prepared to manage risk. As data-driven decision making grows in maturity, the number of data sources and varieties of data consumed by analytics processes increases.

AI infused automation can further enable insights and innovation at scale. But with complex workloads and processes comes opacity, and that opacity can lead to unintended and inadvertent bias and privacy risks. A data culture makes it easy for technologists and business partners to work together on projects that are transparent, well-governed, and auditable processes.

5 best practices for cultivating a mature data culture

In the same way that a probiotic culture is dynamic, growing when supported and shrinking when not, an organization’s data culture is also dynamic and needs to be cultivated. Here are some best practices that will help.

1. People: Identify and empower your employee champions

Pervasive data-driven decision making is a key benefit of a mature data culture, and it starts with empowered people. Employee champions are like probiotic boosters for a healthy data culture: Some champions can help create widespread cultural change.

first, to identify those employees from each department who have demonstrated interest or competence in reading, working, evaluating, analyzing and discussing data. to empowerr them by providing ongoing training; get them in peer training for their colleagues; recognize and reward linking their leadership with professional development and company spiffs. Develop enterprise-wide data literacy benchmark metrics and measurable goals, and make them part of your organization’s Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).

2. Processes: widen the circle of stakeholders for data-centric and AI-related projects

Within your data and analytics workgroups and centers of excellence, instantiate data culture as a strategic differentiator. Use cross-functional and cross-departmental teams to define short- and long-term metrics and milestones. Set up quarterly reviews of progress that will be shared across the company. Partner with Human Resources to support formal training and internal certification in data literacy skills.

3. Technology: Increase access to self-service data analytics for business users who have been trained

Identify which self-service technologies will enable business users to make better decisions through data, and which data should be prioritized to enable those technologies. Test those self-service approaches with your employee champions and iterate/”train one to train many” to amplify value.

4. Data: Increase access to governed and trusted data to support key data culture initiatives

If one of those initiatives is to enable self-service insights for sales leadership, what data will be needed? If another initiative is to measure the impact over time of data culture, what metrics will matter and what data is needed to support that effort?

Data is fuel for innovation and optimization: To reap the benefit of a data culture, you need to grant access to your champions. A key enabling approach is through master data management (MDM) technologies. As noted by Daniel Newbern, senior director of enterprise projects at SunGard, “MDM provides more robust reporting for commercial organizations as well as executives and corporate groups. It will enable them to make better business decisions related to operations and customers. And the time needed to generate the requested information has decreased significantly.”

5. Orchestration: Use orchestration and prioritization to speed time to value

By prioritizing the focus areas where data-driven decision making will have the most value, your company can more efficiently orchestrate the people, processes, technologies, and data that are needed first. As you orchestrate, you’ll find unexpected sticking points. These early discoveries will help you address the roadblocks and dependencies that slow progress, not only for your initial data culture projects, but for long-term data-driven success.

Original image by author Lori Witzel, all rights reserved.

In short, if you could do one thing today to help your business thrive, I suggest exploring how to mature your data culture.

Lori Witzel is director of research at TIBCO.

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