Data culture is the key to successful digital transformation | Straight Talk

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This article is by Featured Blogger Naveen Joshi from his LinkedIn page. Republished with the author’s permission.

To unlock the real potential of data, organizations have to work around it intelligently; else they will have to face the perils of mishandled data. And this is why data culture matters!

This fact might surprise most of us - “Two and a half quintillion bytes of data is generated every single day.” This circles around another fact that industries across the world are drowning in data. But are they making the most of the available data too? Sadly, they aren’t. Here’s why we say so:

Data can bring in revenue but only if companies make good use of it. But unfortunately DATA IS BEING MISMANAGED. Justified that integrating data accurately for the right use cases is a complex undertaking. But, using data pervasively is mandatory too. Here’s where the concept of data culture comes in. Organizations often create an effective and smartly-crafted business strategy but fail to include data culture in the plan. Having a data-driven culture leaves no scope for data getting siloed. Every department will make equal use of the collected data and there will be no room for confusion on how to the best use of the available data. Exploring the downside of not having a data culture To stay ahead of their peers, organizations aspire to achieve digital transformation. Accordingly, heavy investments in new-age technologies are made by companies. Businesses also collect tons and tons of data from various meaningful sources to kickstart their digital transformation process. However, the only issue faced is the low emphasis on how to extract maximum value from the data. Data is just like crude oil - the true value can only be unlocked when organizations refine it. Hence, right from the data that is collected to its cleansing to its analysis to its value extraction, companies should appropriately and accurately understand the data at every touchpoint. And for this, data culture is of utmost importance. But, what if organizations fail to make the maximum use of data?

A lot of money is invested by companies to collect data. Not making good use of this data translates into a negative impact on the company’s finances. Besides, the latest tools and technologies are leveraged by companies to store, manage, and handle the ever-increasing data. These tools can be quite expensive. So, not making the right use of the collected data is indeed a lousy ROI. Besides, CDOs have to work with executives to prepare a business strategy collaboratively. Their time and efforts will be worth only if organizations use data appropriately. Hence, organizations’ aim to get digitized, enhance workforce productivity, increase operational accuracy and efficiency, ensure financial gains, and beat their competitors will not be possible without including the right culture in the organization. Revealing how to build a data culture for your organization A stat from the Gartner report says it all, “While 80% of CEOs claim to have operationalized the notion of data as an asset, only 10% say that their company actually treats it that way.” Companies rely on data for their daily business operations and claim data as their asset, but fail to treat it like a strategic asset in reality. Here’s where the problem lies. For building a data-driven culture, organizations should first align their business strategy with the collected data and see to it that data quality is maintained throughout. So here’s how an organization can create its data culture the right way:

  • Make sure every department makes use of data - CDOs should consider this as the most important As and when data comes in, CDOs should analyze how every department can use the data to its advantage. They shouldn’t allow data to get siloed. And for this, they should first get all their employees educated on how to use data for their work processes for enhanced accuracy and productivity.
  • Track the path of data - An organization should collect all possible information on:
  • who creates the data
  • how well the data is being consumed
  • which department still makes the least use of data and why
  • are the drawn insights actionable
  • Is the right use of data being made
  • is anyone corrupting the data

Data tracking can help the organization have clarity on how data is being used by employees, how well the business strategy is being followed, and whether they are on the right path of innovation.

With such data, organizations can draw meaningful insights regarding business processes, consumer behavior, or competitor movements, only if interpreted the right way.

  • Identify alternative use cases - Regular analysis to discover more unconventional ways of using data should be undertaken by organizations. Organizations should not get stagnant; instead, they should keep finding alternatives, experiment with the data, and innovate.
  • Maintain a good communication among departments - Data success for one department in an organization may look different from that for the other departments. So, it is crucial that teams come together, communicate with others, share their success stories, and identify more concrete ways to solve issues of teams that are striving for data success. Organizations can consider this in their excellence program agenda.
  • Gauge friction points - While thriving for digital transformation, it is pretty obvious that employees will have differing views. While one team may suggest something ‘revolutionary,’ the other may find it Contradictions will occur at every level, for sure. But, creating a thriving data culture depends on how well organizations manage every debate around data, without making employees feel unwanted and their suggestions uninvited. Greater transparency should be maintained in terms of business plans and innovation among employees for creating a better future for the organization. For this, organizations should strive to make their employees, regardless of their domain, understand the need for achieving their ultimate goal. Company’s big picture should be made known to employees. Making employees understand that everyone is striving to achieve a common goal will help them cultivate positive feelings towards their peers and their workplace.

For data to act as a strategic asset, you need to safeguard it while creating openness for employees. Justified, the transition is not going to be an easy one. But, nothing’s better than beginning to lay the foundation today. Identify employees who are vital data ambassadors, who actually understand data capabilities. These people can help other company executives and, most importantly, the CDOs. Once your organization has the right team of experts you can start your journey of creating a data culture by following the steps mentioned above.