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Building a Data-Centric Culture

Data is an important cornerstone of a digitally driven enterprise. The amount of data available that is useful not only to the enterprise but to the individuals as well makes the value of the organization possessing such data extremely advantageous.

But as many would attest, being a digital business is not just about possessing large chunks of data. What is more critical is how the enterprise and the users are utilizing the data and if they are utilizing it as effectively and efficiently as they should be.

For businesses looking towards a successful digital transformation, a prevalent data-centric culture should be in place.

What makes a data-centric culture

A data-centric culture is the collective behaviors and beliefs of the people within the enterprise who share a common understanding of enterprise data and use data for their decisions and operations in a manner that is compliant with both internal policies and external regulations.

What this entails is that the data needs to be easily discoverable, understandable, and of value to the people that need to use it and that these characteristics are sustained throughout its lifecycle.

The benefits of a data-centric culture

Having a well-established data culture offers numerous benefits for the enterprise, among them:

Superior insights – Companies with an established data infrastructure can transform data into valuable business intelligence for the entire organization. At the same time, individual teams and departments will have an increased appetite for data analytics, data visualizations, reports, and dashboards to inform their ongoing decision-making.

Quicker time to action – In recent years, more businesses are finding ways to apply new data and new data sources directly, without the need for human intervention. Advanced artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms can turn data into action in real-time, saving significant time and resources for the enterprise.

Competitive advantage – In a competitive business landscape, a data-driven culture spells the difference in the business’ growth and competitiveness ahead of the rest. Putting data front and center with an established common understanding of context and best practices for data usage enables users to move faster and make better decisions than companies that still rely on instinct or suffer from fragmented data infrastructure.

Employee empowerment – A strong data culture gives every single employee the power and the confidence to make data-driven decisions as a result of the organization’s priority towards data and providing employees access to such data so they can perform their roles more effectively. This in turn not only facilitates improved operational efficiency but also employee retention for the organization

Data-centric Culture at Work

So how does a data-centric culture contribute to the growth of any company that implements it? Research by Forrester indicated that organizations that use data to derive insights for decision-making are almost three times more likely to achieve double-digit growth. Another report from MIT found that a data-driven culture results in increased revenue, improved profitability, and enhanced operating efficiencies. Research from IDC also shows that organizations realize the full value of their data when they have an established data culture.

Implemented properly, a data-centric culture serves as a pillar for growth and development for any organization that adopts it.

The secret to successfully building a data culture

In a report, one in three executives would admit that creating a data-driven culture is a challenge. And while there is no single answer or magic solution, a successful strategy for culture change takes all the various stakeholders into account, understanding their needs, and where they call in the rollout.

The onus falls on the data team, IT leaders, and the chief data officer (CDO) who have the task to establish the organization-wide data strategy necessary to balance appropriate control of the data with data access that will support the business.

It is also critical that C-suite executives sponsor or buy into the data culture idea as well. Exclusively top-down initiatives are rarely successful, but when senior leadership is seen to support the practical strategies and guidelines established by the data team, that carries weight for end users across the organization.

With a common set of expectations, a common language for data across the organization, and a shared emphasis on the importance of data for business decisions, it’s easy for the rest of the business to follow suit and work towards a solid data culture within the enterprise.

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