The benefits of becoming a data-driven enterprise are clear, and more than make up for the energy consumed in achieving that goal. However, reaping the benefits of becoming data-driven is proving to be a challenge, and many executives are claiming culture is to blame.
According to the NewVantage Partners Big Data and AI Executive Survey, cultural challenges have again hit the top spot as the number one blocker for executives in creating data-driven companies for the fourth year in a row.
“For the 4th consecutive year, over 90% of executives – 91.9% in 2022 -- point to culture as the greatest impediment to achieving this business outcome.”
It’s becoming increasingly clear that becoming data-driven is ultimately about the ability of people and organizations to adapt to change. But focusing on culture without ensuring that there is a strong enough technical foundation for a data-driven culture to take hold is the first wrong step that executives may be taking.
To answer this, let's quickly revisit how our perspectives around data have evolved over recent years:
"We need data in order to be successful." (Immature companies starting out their data journey, understanding they should be using it.)
"We need our data to be usable in order to be successful." (Companies working to generate quality, accurate, timely data that is fit to be used in decision making.)
"We need our data to be usable and actionable in order to be successful". (Companies that can generate quality, accurate, timely data and are working to apply it to the most relevant and applicable situations).
"We need our data to be usable, actionable, and aligned with our business processes in order to be successful." (More maturing organizations fall into this category. They have data that is clean, accurate, and timely, that exists in formats that can tell the stories they need to tell, but it does not align fully with their business processes, nor do these capabilities exist at scale).
"We need our data to be usable, actionable, aligned with our business processes, and aligned with our people in order to be successful." (Leading organizations who understand that aligning actionable data with business people and processes and aligning actionable insight with business people and processes are two different things.)
It's one thing for data strategies to align with business processes. It's another to make sure that data, once aligned with processes, is actually functioning as intended and serving the needs of the people tasked with implementing those processes. All too often, it isn't.
Despite the technical advances in data and continuing push for data literacy, people tasked working with data directly are still dealing with a wealth of frustrations.
Some of these frustrations include:
Not having context around data.
Not knowing how to interpret or apply data.
Having to wait for data.
Having critical data missing from their requirements.
Not knowing where data is coming from.
Having to navigate bureaucracy and restrictions around data.
Having to take on wildly complex projects around data.
Experiencing growing workloads and requests.
Lacking supporting resources.
Witnessing disruption around data due to personnel changes.
Experiencing workflow constraints.
Lack of consistency in data or methodology.
Lack of automated processes.
Poor collaborative capabilities.
Poor visibility into data environments.
Highly-complex data pipelines.
Delayed project progress or missed deadlines.
That's a lot of issues persisting around data despite the investment we've made over recent years. It's no wonder that data-driven cultures are having a hard time taking hold.
If data cultures are about getting people comfortable with data, then we need to focus on alleviating people’s frustrations and concerns around working with data. In this way, we can better unlock its ability to have impact. We can find solutions that alleviate these concerns. We can lay some groundwork that will better allow data cultures to take hold.
"It's a tried and true business model to build products and services that fit into how people work and function, and not the other way around. Our data-driven decision-making capabilities should act the same way."
Data leaders have to remember that the process of becoming data-driven is a substantial, complex, and unprecedented undertaking that touches many areas of their organization. They should anticipate editing their approaches to data frequently and ruthlessly until they find what works for the culture they’re responsible for.
For a closer look at what data leaders can do to alleviate difficulties around data-driven decision-making, join us for our upcoming webinar, “Actionable Insight: Reengineering Decision Making & Adapting for Change” on May 24, 2022. Register here →
Process Tempo is a Decision Intelligence Data Platform built on industry-leading graph technology. The no-code, collaborative data science, data engineering, and data analytics platform simplifies complex data environments, empowering people, processes, and technologies to work together harmoniously. The secure, governed, high-performance environment delivers actionable data and insight rapidly to all stakeholders, helping to accelerate the delivery of quality, data-driven decision-making and improve business outcomes at scale. Schedule a discovery session