Data-Driven Cultures For Enhanced Organizational Productivity & Efficiency


Technological advances have made exponential leaps and bounds over the last decade. By 2025, the interaction between humans and machines will be as standard as the corporate balance sheet. Employees shall be able to leverage the power of real-time data to aid their decision making.

According to Cindi Howson at the MIT Chief Data Officer and Information Quality Symposium, data-driven companies are able to experience the following perks: growth in revenue, improved operating efficiencies, better profits and better customer service. What exactly does it mean to be data-driven?

What it means to be a data-driven organization

Ordinary organizations heavily rely on gut feelings, the existing state of affairs and sometimes incomplete pieces of information to make strategic, tactical and operational decisions. However, data-driven organizations are able to base each decision upon insights drawn from a particular data set. At the core of a data-driven organization, lies the organizational culture. A rich culture should have all the stakeholders buy into the idea that data is essential to making all business decisions. As a result, no matter how major or minor a decision is, it should always be data-backed.

Creating a data-driven organizational culture

Data will only take your organization so far. The key drivers of a data-driven organization are the people.

  1. Acquire talent that is data visionary

A data-driven culture is about bringing people with the right mindsets together. Talent acquisition efforts need to deliberate in getting one that believes in the power of data to improve business performance. This specific talent needs to be able to see the big picture in making data-driven decisions. This has to start from the top of the organizational structure and then trickle down to various departments. Hiring a Chief Digital Officer to set up the necessary structures would be something to closely consider. This is because these individuals are very innovative and hence are able to set up the necessary standard operating procedures in place.

2. Make the data findable and accessible to everyone

For decisions to be data-driven, the required data needs to be easily accessible to the relevant parties without much friction. In addition, data needs to be stored in a centralized silo.

With relevant security and compliance concerns addressed, data access should be democratized. This will promote a self-service data culture that will allow respective people to access the kind of data that affects them to make abreast decisions backed by data. However, Chinese walls still will be necessary to prevent unnecessary access to sensitive data.

Imagine an organization where you need to consult the data analyst team any time you want to access a particular dataset. That would create a lot of delays in the decision-making process making it redundant. On achieving data-democratization within a data-driven organization, making use of business intelligence solutions that are powered by conversational analytics. A good place to start would be using predefined APIs like Amazon’s SageMaker. The SageMager allows everyone at different competence levels to be able to tinker with analytics and machine learning.

3. Make all stakeholders in your organization data literate

In the early 2000s, every company’s job description had to highlight that the applicant must be computer literate. In the current world producing over 463 exabytes of data daily, upskilling is a no brainer so as to leverage the utility of this plethora of available data. If your organization is going to leverage the power of data in decision making, the users need to understand what the data says and its implications. They need to speak the same language. However, the focus needs to be on the skills and not on the shiny tools. A Tableau and Microsoft’s PowerBI subscriptions will not close the skills gap. Companies need to take deliberate steps in making sure that their employees are data literate.

For example, Google’s “g2g” (Googler-to-Googler) programme is a deliberate effort to improve data literacy for its teams such as through coding classes and application development boot camps.

Every executive needs to think creatively about how they can leverage the power of data. However, at the heart of all great implementation results, it is all about the people in the organization. Employees need to be empowered to give their opinions on how to utilize the data even though they might be of contrary opinion to the highest-paid person in the room. Those that shy from being data-driven will find it cumbersome to get the returns in future similar to what we experienced in the dotcom bubble of the 1990s.

Author: Dickson Ndoro