Culture shock: Becoming a data-driven business

With big data and business intelligence sweeping the world of enterprise, it can be easy to forget the speed at which these new tools have made their mark. While analysis of business information has been around in some form as long as the economy has existed, it’s comparatively recently that data analytics tools have become sophisticated enough to show real value.

It’s understandable, then, that some members of the organisation have been left scrambling to keep up in the dynamic new world of data insight. As useful as the insights analytics can deliver are, and as intuitive as the solutions are designed to be, there is a learning curve associated with becoming a data-driven business, so it’s important to ensure everyone involved is on the same page.

The importance of culture

Building up a culture of data within the organisation is a crucial step towards successful business intelligence projects. Let’s take a look at how the modern enterprise can make this transition.

Improving business culture can yield some impressive benefits.

People are the lifeblood of any organisation, so obviously having each individual aligned with strategic goals and operational planning is essential for optimal efficiency and productivity. That said, research suggests that while companies are aware of the benefits of strong culture, developing it is still not well understood.

According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 82 per cent of respondents agree that culture offers a competitive advantage; however, just 28 per cent of believe they clearly understand their culture, and only 19 per cent feel they are on the right track.

Defining and changing culture is dependent on every person within the organisation; however, Deloitte concluded that it is an issue that must be addressed at the senior executive level. Given its strategic importance, measuring culture and adapting operations to drive greater engagement across the workforce is the key to accessing that competitive advantage mentioned above.

Leading from the front

Speaking about the challenges of becoming a data-driven business, Research Director at Gartner Alan Duncan is quick to point out that changing culture isn’t as simple as just demanding it from the workforce.

“Trying to implement new behaviours and measurements without addressing the underlying culture is counterproductive – it results in even well-intentioned people slipping back into old, undesirable behaviours during times of pressure and uncertainty,”

“As something members of the organisation must do collectively, substantive business transformation begins with culture, and culture begins with a shared language for how information is managed and used.”

Big data can be complicated, so leaders need to guide the way.

A recent report from Bersin on leadership maturity found less than half of respondents felt that leaders in organisations were driving change and innovation in their companies. The people at the top should be the example for everyone else to follow, providing a strong vision for the data-driven future. Many businesses have taken the initiative by creating a new Chief Data Officer (CDO) role, dedicating the necessary resources to pursue operational improvements.

“Influencing culture change requires the CDO to engage with stakeholders at a human level,” adds Duncan. “She or he must take into account the overall desires and motivations of the organisation, the potential impacts on the circumstances of individuals, and understand the broader expectations of the wider ecosystem.”

Putting the tools in the hands of CDOs

Being a data-driven business requires not just the support and enthusiasm of the people in your organisations, but the tools to help them get the most out of big data analysis. For a variety of business intelligence solutions and a wealth of data science know-how and advice, get in touch with Ascention today.