When the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, opened up its data to all of its people, the initial reaction was met with skepticism. But after completing an effort focused on systems and application integration across the agency, its space centers and various software programs, the non-believers were quickly converted.

Productivity increased, boosted by an 83 percent reduction in project review time.

Employee engagement improved.

Collaboration took off.

Most of all, people were happier.

Employees spent less time searching for data and more time actually doing something with it, including delivering faster, more accurate reports with new levels of sophistication.

Then something remarkable happened: The culture of an organization that had been innovating for 60 years changed.

“We set it up so people who don’t want to change can still bring data forward and that led to cultural change. People would say: ‘I can go to sleep at night because I don’t have to read 700 pages to find 10 points of data,” said says Jim Matheson, principal software engineer at NASA. “When we presented the data we can provide, senior management said, ‘Hey, this is a good thing.’ That’s how we impacted the culture, because people at a higher level said let’s use this technology, let’s extend it, use it for external systems, so we can all communicate and be happy.”

Like NASA, most companies and organizations today are being forced to make data more open both internally and externally. This is being driven by four significant disruptors: Community, Technology, Economics and Data. These powerful pressure points are creating a perfect storm of change that every company must prepare for today and in the future. If properly navigated, business value can come in the form of faster innovation, happier people, and yes, cultural change at your company. Take a look:

  1. Community — Companies today are required to serve larger and more demanding communities of users. The knowledge worker persona is expanding to include a more diverse group that reaches across the enterprise. As a result, successful companies are opening data up to a broader set of roles, including business analysts, data scientists and savvy line of business people. These users all want to leverage data and develop new insights.
  2. Technology As technology rapidly leaps forward, this new community of users is adapting to and demanding more data at a rate we have not seen prior. Self-service and exploration tools that enable a deeper level of insights with less support required are helping companies quench this new thirst for employee knowledge.
  3. Economics The business of data and insight is shifting fast. New intelligence backed by concrete actions are within the financial grasp of companies of all sizes. Open source technologies are making it happen for anyone, allowing for experimentation without the traditional risk or massive upfront investments that only big companies can afford.
  4. Data Companies are crossing the finish line on application integration, accessing data and bringing together disparate systems across their businesses. Many have systems that access all of their data and can now draw conclusions at the moment that data is exposed. Now’s the time for companies to take action on its data!

Bottom line: These four disruptors are driving change in the most innovative companies.

Learn more about the NASA story by reading the complete case study.