Getting data culture right and why it matters

A digital face in profile against a digital background.
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Ryzhi)

There’s been a renewed focus on digital transformation over the past two years, driven in part by the pandemic. Whilst it was already on many organizations' agendas and a central component of their business strategy, the pandemic led to a significant need to speed up the digital transformation that was underway.

About the author

Craig Stewart is CTO at SnapLogic.

Accompanying this shift, there has also been the growing need for better data literacy across all employees. However, the importance that businesses place on data literacy awareness and training, and the benefits that greater data literacy can bring, often fades into the background when introducing new technologies or initiatives. The issue here is that if employees are not fore-armed with the right knowledge, businesses simply are unprepared to reap the full rewards that tech strategies can offer, hindering the accrual of any long-term benefits.

A ‘data culture’ plays an essential role when it comes to an effective digital transformation within the business. Specifically, data culture is when everyone within an organization understands the potential value of data, their role in using data, and how data-driven insights and actions can accelerate the achievement of the overall goals of the business. McKinsey predicts that by 2025, most employees will be leveraging data to support their work, so it is going to be vital that they have a solid understanding of how value can be derived.

However, business leaders will not wake up one morning to find that their business has a thriving data culture. It takes work and is an ongoing process. You have probably already heard the term ‘data-driven’ being thrown around as leadership teams plan ahead. To bear the fruits of this labor, they are going to need to make sure that their data culture is strong.

Getting it right

It might be hard to see how a data-first approach can be implemented across the business and some employees could find it difficult to see how data can be of real value within their role. So, it will be essential to break through these barriers to introduce a strong data culture: there are a number of steps that businesses can take to help them achieve this.

As is often the case, a good first step is supporting current staff, ensuring that they feel comfortable and positive about embracing new ways of working. This can be done by making sure that the right enablement and training is in place to help them succeed.

It will be imperative that all employees understand how data can support their work and how it can be applied to all lines of business - from improving HR processes, such as employee onboarding, right through to optimizing finance and accounting processes such as accounts payable systems and stakeholder reporting.

As some employees may not see how data can help them, by showing them the ways that a data-first approach can be applied, the insights that can be gleaned, and how it can help them to more efficiently and intelligently do their job whilst reducing their workload, it will encourage buy-in.

Implementing a carefully devised strategy that outlines exactly how it will affect, but more importantly benefit teams across the business is essential to ensuring that the business gets the process, and subsequently the results, right. The basis of the strategy needs to be what the overall goals of the digital transformation are and how the company’s data culture feeds into it.

Strategy first, technology second

Once a strategy is in place and employees are feeling empowered by data, you can begin to deploy the tools that will help the business develop a solid digital infrastructure. This could include:

Low-code/no-code: A no code/low code platform for data automation reduces the complexity and expertise required to engage with technology and data projects. Employees – regardless of their level of IT knowledge – can quickly and easily drive business value, giving them greater speed, flexibility, and agility to access information when they need it.

Data management: Data, data, data – that is what it is all about. However, if a business’s important data is siloed and difficult to access by the people that need it, then its value will be limited. Introducing a platform that enables proper integration, storage, analysis and cataloguing of data is key.

Catalogue: When there is a vast amount of data, it can be difficult to keep track of it. Saving, managing, and retrieving your organization's data is essential and only by deploying a platform that can offer you a holistic view of your data landscape can you keep a track of what is going on.

AI-powered: There has been growing demand to introduce AI into the workplace and technology that harnesses AI will give you an edge against competitors. Using AI to automate repetitive tasks can also lead to increased IT productivity and enable employees to quickly connect applications and data together to reveal new insights.

Technology has the potential to breathe new life into a business, transforming and revolutionizing the way that it operates. Creating a true data culture will be at the heart of making the new digital infrastructure a success. However, to get it right, a clear strategy is necessary and everyone within the organization will need to be on board.

At TechRadar Pro, we've featured the best productivity tools.

Craig Stewart is CTO at SnapLogic.