Data analytics and machine learning will drive the majority of IT investment this year. That’s according to a majority of IT leaders in’s State of the CIO survey. Yet these investments may not be enough to truly make an organization data-driven. Many enterprises struggle to overcome critical challenges in pursuit of this goal. 

For example, one recent report found that: 

  • Seventy-one percent of data leaders are “less than very confident” that their organization’s leadership sees a link between investing in analytics and competitive advantage. 
  • Fifty-one percent of respondents expect to get half or less than the amount they need to stay ahead of the competition. 
  • Sixty-six percent believe company leadership is a chief obstacle in funding data and analytics initiatives. 

So, if funding and executive support aren’t the answer, what should companies do to ensure that their data transformation is successful? 

In a recent CIO article, Thor Olavsrud cites numerous industry analysts who suggest that cultural transformation and treating data as a product is key to success. He outlines the chief elements of an effective data strategy, including:

  • High-Priority Use Case Identification: This should include clear expectations on data monetization and the transformation of data as an asset. In addition, this area must address the development of a data supply, including internal and external data sources. 
  • A Data Governance Plan: It’s essential to specify how data will be managed and outline the policies, stewardship, and operating model for proper data management. 
  • High-Level Architecture Plan: The company’s architecture must be informed by the types of technology required to integrate, transform, enable, and consume data. 
  • A Plan to Increase Data Literacy: Another essential element is democratizing data throughout the organization and ensuring that decision-makers at both strategic and tactical levels have access to relevant data. 
  • Addressing Change Management: Finally, organizations must consider how they introduce the new technologies and procedures involved in data transformation. Change management isn’t just about training. Instead, it should connect employees to the drivers behind the change and incentivize them to embrace new approaches through a culture that reinforces this new way of operating. 

Head over to CIO for more on these considerations and examples of companies that have embraced them for successful data transformation.