Here’s a question: what do you believe is the chief roadblock preventing your organization from becoming more data-driven? Is it a lack of resources or the proper technology? Or maybe it’s fragmented partner relationships that are holding your company back?
But if your business is like the majority of organizations, the answer is no, no, and no. According to a recent NewVantage Partners survey, 92.2 percent of companies point to cultural issues as the main obstacle in their data-driven journeys.
And while it may sound tempting to simply appoint a Chief Data Officer in the hopes of addressing this problem, experts say the issue often requires a far more complex solution than that. Generally speaking, organizations must overcome misalignment between the business and IT in order to implement a culture favorable to data-driven thinking. It’s unrealistic to expect a single executive to bridge this gap, even if they boast the world’s most impressive resume.
So, what can organizations do to chip away at a cultural issue? The first step is recognizing that change can’t happen overnight. Think about the birth of the internet and where we are today—two vastly different environments that bookend multiple phases of internet development. Data-driven transformation is likely to follow a similar roadmap for most organizations.
With that in mind, below are some cultural considerations to be mindful of when attempting to transform your business into one that’s more data-driven:
- Executive Buy-In. Sixty-five percent of respondents in the NewVantage study have a CDO on board. However, as mentioned above, this alone is not enough to overcome cultural issues. It’s also critical that all other executive team members support data-driven thinking and set expectations among their reports that decisions must be anchored in data.
- Let Your People Mingle. If you want to realign the relationship between the business and IT, the last thing you should do is separate your data scientists from the rest of the organization. In addition to exposing scientists and other analytics roles to the business, you should also help non-technical employees become more familiar with quantitative topics and approaches.
- Ensure Pervasive Data Access. It’s hard to become more data-driven at a macro level if a significant number of employees across the business lack basic data access capabilities. This is an important step to continually revisit, given the frequency with which the business changes. Do the right people still have access to the right information they need to be more data-driven in their work?
- The Right Training Programs at the Right Time. Organizations frequently invest in comprehensive training programs at the beginning of a particular data transformation phase. However, if employees aren’t required to put these new skills to use right away, it’s not uncommon for them to have forgotten them when the opportunity finally presents itself. As such, companies should train employees in specialized analytical concepts at the proof of concept phase or a similar juncture that offers more immediate opportunity for utilization.
For more on the above and other important steps in your data-driven journey, check out this HBR article.