“The Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” – Ahmed Zaki Yamani, former Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources, Saudi Arabia
We live in an era of information. The amount of data generated by humans, machines, and organizations continues to increase exponentially. While technologies such as AI and tools like advanced analytics have matured over time to help businesses leverage these massive data sets, organizations are not utilizing these to create a competitive advantage. It’s estimated that approximately 97% of data sits unused in organizations and according to Gartner, 87% of organizations have low business intelligence and analytics maturity It is like leaving money on the table. This blog is a guide to how your company can become a data driven organization.
In 2018, it was estimated that the world generated 33 zettabytes of data. This number is expected to increase to 175 zettabytes by 2025, signaling an incredible 61% CAGR.
It is becoming increasingly critical that organizations more fully understand these massive amounts of data to leverage the value correctly. Being data-driven isn’t just working with data—it’s an approach to understanding its complexities, lineage, and quality. That is how organizations get a competitive edge.
Being data-driven is a journey. The diagram below shows a typical journey an organization undergoes, and the associated maturity level and capabilities achieved along the way:
How does an organization mature in these areas? Becoming a data-driven organization is not the result of any single factor alone—it is multi-dimensional, and there isn’t just one correct path. Let us look at some building blocks for a data-driven mindset within an organization:
1. DEMOCRATIZE THE DATA
Data democratization means that employees have seamless access to data. People are hungry for information, and organizations should emphasize the importance of extensive data access to empower employees at all levels of ownership and responsibility to use data in their decision-making process. Key enablers that help democratize data are:
a) Treat data as a shared asset: Ensure all users have a complete view of all the available data. Departmental data silos should cease to exist. For example, all users should be given a 360-degree view of the customer and operational insights along with the ability to correlate valuable data attributes across business functions like sales and supply chain.
b) Keep cleaning the data: Implementing processes to maintain a good quality of data, key dimensions, and measures is an ongoing activity. Model meaningful relationships in data that can be understood easily to help users realize the value of data.
c) Establish a common vocabulary: Create a common vocabulary to analyze and interpret data. Product catalogs, time dimensions, sales hierarchies, and KPI definitions should be uniform, regardless of how users consume or analyze data.
d) Discourage data movement: Move data only when it is necessary. Organizations should implement multi-structure, multi-workload environments for parallel and scalable processing of massive data sets. They can then significantly reduce the cost of moving data, increase data freshness, and optimize overall data agility and availability.
e) Ensure security and controlled access: Businesses should implement technologies that allow the establishment of a unified architecture for data security and provide self-service access without compromising control.
2. Cultivate a data-driven culture
Apart from technology and tools, a change in the organization’s culture is crucial. A study by NewVantage Partners showed that the main challenges to becoming data-driven were people (62.5%) and process (30.0%)—not technology (7.5%). People continue to be the most challenging ingredient in cultural transformation, and one of the hardest challenges is to change the collective mindset. The following key enablers can help change employee’s mindsets:
a) Onboard data-savvy leaders: Onboard leaders who advocate using data to bridge the gap between business and IT, as well as those who encourage being data-driven by providing them with opportunities to be creative and involved.
A few essential qualities and practices that executives should adopt are:
· Invest in forward-looking platforms to enable data-driven processes
· Build data-driven applications and define the way forward
· Initiate and lead digital transformations
· Be curious about data
“The CEO of ShopRunner highlights the importance of a top-down approach to building a data culture. This starts with their recruitment process, where they ask C-level hopefuls, “How have you used data in the past to make decisions?”
“The movie Moneyball (2011) tells the story of Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane and his assistant Peter Brand who put up together one of the most successful teams in American baseball league’s history with highly efficient decision-making, fully based on data and analytics.”
b) Look for quick wins: Generate quick wins so users can experience tangible benefits of using data, softening resistance to change, and creating positive momentum. Identify pain points that users face from a data analysis perspective, define the desired outcome, and place it on a frequently-used dashboard. As users witness problems being resolved, they will come back with more requirements.
Businesses can successfully use a combination of these building blocks on their journey to becoming a data-driven organization. Diligence and patience will help steer teams in a new direction to become a data-driven organization.