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  • Writer's pictureNicky Finlay

Are your business & data teams working together or against each other?

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

The data world can be very overwhelming - new terms, acronyms and methodologies are being invented and reinvented daily.

It’s confusing and can be hard to understand the nuances of each and every aspect of the data journey throughout a business, especially when someone is explaining why something can’t be done in technobabble that lost you at ‘hello’ and you walk away none the wiser.

There is often an invisible barrier between the technical and non-technical teams, which the use of niche terminology can accentuate. It can be like talking in a different language.

Poor communication can occur through fear of asking a ‘stupid’ question due to lack of understanding or frustrations arise when ‘they just don’t get how difficult it is to do x’ or ‘they don’t realise I need it now in order to drive the business forward’.

This can lead to projects not running smoothly and expectations not being met (or even discussed upfront) or worse not actually being able to use the data as it just feels too difficult to get anything done.

This needs to change.

Developing a data mindset throughout the organisation to view data as a valuable strategic asset and enhancing data literacy is needed to make the change.

Technology and data aren’t going away, in fact, they will become more accessible and powerful. But technology & data alone will not automatically make a business successful. It will be down to how the business uses the capability that will deliver success.

Teams need to be working together to achieve the same goal. It shouldn’t feel like a fight to get access to data or a continuous education job of why it would make a difference to use it.

If businesses want to fully recognise the benefits of being data-driven and to deliver business growth, the interactions between the technical and non-technical teams need to be more effective. This does require a recognition that technical and non-technical people tend to have different learning, communication styles and priorities.

So who’s responsible to make the communication better?

You could quickly come to some form of standoff if there is an expectation that the other side needs to upskill to make the communication more effective.

It needs to come from both sides and more importantly, needs to become core to how the business is lead and developing a culture to use data more systematically to deliver impact.

This means the whole organisation needs to work together. Here are our top tips to get technical and non-technical teams working together to embrace data and help the business grow and be more successful:

1. Alignment of goals and objectives:

Business teams understand the business's strategic goals, objectives, and challenges. By working together, data teams can gain insights into the business context, which helps them focus on collecting, analysing, and presenting data that is relevant and valuable for decision-making. This alignment ensures that data initiatives are aligned with the organization's overall objectives.

2. Contextual understanding of data:

Data teams possess technical expertise in handling and analysing data, but they may lack a deep understanding of the specific business context. By collaborating with business teams, data teams can gain insights into the nuances of business processes, industry dynamics, and customer behavior. This contextual understanding helps data teams interpret data accurately and derive meaningful insights.

3. Agreeing relevant data definitions:

It’s actually the business teams that often have a comprehensive understanding of what the data means within the organisation and externally. They may not see it as data but ‘product information’ or ‘customer billing details’ but they can provide valuable guidance to data teams on identifying relevant data sources and ensuring data quality. This collaboration ensures that data teams have access to the right data needed for analysis and decision-making.

4. Data-driven problem-solving:

Business teams encounter various challenges and problems that can benefit from a data-driven approach. By collaborating with data teams, business teams can leverage data analysis and insights to solve complex problems, identify opportunities, and make informed decisions. The combined expertise of both teams allows for a more comprehensive and effective problem-solving process.

5. Effective data communication:

Data teams possess technical skills in data analysis, but they may struggle to communicate the insights effectively to non-technical stakeholders. Business teams excel in communicating ideas, strategies, and recommendations in a language that resonates with decision-makers. Collaborating with business teams helps data teams learn to present data in a more understandable and actionable manner, ensuring that insights are effectively communicated to drive decision-making.

6. Continuous learning and improvement:

Collaboration between business and data teams fosters a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Data teams can educate business teams on data literacy and analytical techniques, while business teams can provide feedback and insights to help data teams improve their data analysis and reporting processes. This collaborative learning environment ensures that both teams grow their data-related skills and knowledge.

Data is often thought of as a single entity but it is really an ecosystem that requires different roles to perform different tasks both from the technical and the non-technical / business sides.

The ecosystem requires building bridges between the different roles to become more collaborative to drive value from data within the business.

Developing a data-driven culture and improving data literacy across the business will help to build those bridges, ensure projects run more efficiently and start your journey to become more data-driven throughout the organisation.

All teams need to know the role of data to support the business strategy, have an appreciation for how data is structured and held within the business, and how to interpret and use the data to make better decisions.

But this also requires technical teams to simplify their language and talk about data projects with a business context, with awareness on what impact it has on the business and an appreciation of how the data is going to be used.

Get in touch with MoJo for more information or support

We are passionate about working with businesses to enable a data mindset, improving how your teams work together and where you need to focus to build your data ecosystem.

Each business is at different stages with different challenges, so we always start by understanding where you are in your data journey. Book a discovery call or email to see how enabling a data-driven culture could benefit your business.


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