The 8 Core Values of A Data Centric Organization

Sanchita Lobo


May 9th, 2017

Gartner has predicted that 2017 is the year that Data and Analytics will go mainstream. We have certainly come a long way since that time when organizations were first prompted to explore and discover the magic of their data. This sudden focus on data was dismissed as just another fad by many back then, and so the emphasis in those initial years was as much on awareness as it was on action.

As the buzz began to dissipate, it was not because the business world had given up on their data. Quite the opposite; they had all jumped on the bandwagon and everyone had their own success stories to share. Company stakeholders were beginning to come on board and the buzz was becoming the norm.

So here we are in 2017, and while we find that data is being smartly used to a large extent, we also find that there is still tremendous scope for optimizing it better. Data scientists in forward-thinking organizations look at data with a more holistic view and at every step of the data process seek inputs from people on the ground; those interacting with customers and suppliers as well as those involved in the organizations strategizing and planning. However, if the rest of the organization does not understand what the data scientists are doing, they cannot give them the inputs they need, in the way they need it.

It is no longer enough to have a highly-specialized team of data wizards. What’s needed to truly have that competitive edge is a data-centric culture throughout the organization. It’s time every employee and every manager, no matter their function, understands data and is trained to make fact-based decisions. It’s time for organizations to transform to a data culture and empower their people, thus truly giving wings to their data.

Why have data-centric organizations better success with their data?

Even if organizations value data, many of them are application-centric. In the long run, such a culture will be crippled by ineffective decision-making processes and huge overheads contributed to in large by the cost of maintaining multiple data sources, as well as dirty data. These organizations find it difficult to sustain their data initiatives or meet their KPIs. What they need is an overhaul of their culture; they need to commit to data and recognize it as an asset that encompasses the entire business.

When the whole organization has a vested interest in data, it ensures that the raw data is richer. As a result, the insights garnered are superior, they address the business problems (which have also been more accurately defined) more precisely and more importantly, the insights are understood better by those who make the decisions. By building data into every niche of the business, ensuring that their data strategy is in sync with their business strategy and encouraging people throughout the organization to rely on data, management will not only enjoy a 360-degree view of the business, but they will be witness to increased sales, decreased operational costs, and higher profits.

Building a Data-Driven Culture – The 8 Core Values

Transitioning to a data culture involves at the most basic of levels a shift in the values that drive the organization. There needs to be a deliberate paradigm change in mindset that reflects the organization’s activities and priorities. To be more specific, a data-driven organization needs to build these eight core values into the very fiber of their business:

1. Data belongs to everyone in the organization. It is an organizational asset.

A data-centric organization proudly declares data as an asset and protects it as such. It recognizes its value and though it might not have a place on the balance sheet, it has an evident presence throughout the organization.

2. Buy-in from top to down

Everyone, from those in the boardroom to those on the shop floor believes in the power of data and inculcates and promotes a data mindset at all times. They understand its value and its ability to sharpen corporate strategy and drive innovation. Everyone stops making intuitive decisions, as evidence-based decisions become the norm, with leaders leading the way by example.

3. Mission alignment

Data is an integral part of the company’s overall mission. Goals are explicitly outlined and business and IT work in harmony, each having a comprehensive appreciation and understanding of the other’s goals, innovations, and priorities.

4. Transparency and information sharing is key

All information, good and bad, important and not so important is shared and made available to everyone. Everyone has a holistic view of the data they need and there is transparency and collaboration at all levels. Also important is celebrating data successes to further promote a robust data sharing culture.

5. Data quality is a number one priority

Data is managed, integrated, and disseminated uniformly and consistently to ensure its highest quality. Data related issues are addressed at the source and dealt with on priority.

6. Setting KPIs are critical to success

As with every other initiative, all data activities and insights are measured. It’s important to know if the data is adding value and if not, why?

7. Be data harvesters

Available data is valuable, but finding or creating new data can be even more valuable. Data is collected and harvested from everywhere; internal, external and paid data. Once the business problem is defined, the data needed to solve the problem is imagined and then ways are devised to find it, if not already available. Data for which no known use currently exists is also retained, because of the possibility of it having value at some point in the future.

8. Practice an analytic culture

This might seem redundant to mention but as it is fundamental to a data-centric culture, it is crucial to emphasize its importance. Data-centric organizations practice an analytics culture that focuses on insights, optimization, and innovation. They master the security and privacy of their data and roles and governance responsibilities are clearly defined so as not to expose the business to threats. The necessary analytics tools and technologies are made readily available and everyone is trained and equipped with the latest skills to stay relevant.

As with any cultural transformation, leadership plays a key role and the onus is on the top management to drive the transformation through open and engaged communication and transparency. Change never comes easy. It’s best to anticipate the challenges that will accompany the shift in mindset and set aside any dedicated resources needed that will ease the transition. This includes a team charged with the task of change management. In time employees will see the benefits of integrating data into their own individual priorities and outcomes, leading to a gradual organizational transformation.


To learn more about how to build a data-centric team, CLICK HERE.


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