Getting the business on-board with being data-driven

Updated: Mar 25

Becoming ‘data-driven’ or ‘data-enabled’ is the ambition of many organisations but according to a survey of the Fortune 1000 featured in a recent HBR article, only 24% of organisations are reporting that they are actually data-driven.

With 92% of respondents reporting ‘cultural challenges relating to organizational alignment, business processes, change management, communication, people skill sets, and resistance or lack of understanding’ as the main reasons restricting change to becoming data-driven.


It’s clear that the key to success to become data-driven isn’t solely about the data, but also about how a business is going to use it.


So how do we start getting the business on-board with being data-driven?


Let’s start at the beginning.


Data.


A simple word and in definition ‘a fact’.


But the data world is increasingly complex. Those working with data often love it, solving complex problems of how to manipulate, transform, consolidate, analyse and model it.


New technologies, machine learning and AI are being developed and used to increase the ability to manage the ever-increasing volume and variety of data to deliver analytics, insights and algorithms at scale.

It is unlikely in today's business world that there isn’t some kind of data work being done.

However, ‘data’ often becomes a catch-all term that has many different guises and focuses throughout the different areas of a business


This in itself doesn’t make a business data-driven.

For business people, the data world can be a complete mystery; it’s akin to someone speaking in a different language. The lack of understanding as to ‘why can’t I just have this piece of information or data’ can cause significant conflict between teams. Which can lead to resistance to using data in the future because it feels too difficult.


In turn, data and analytical projects can suffer and aren’t given the right level of investment or support, causing frustration due to lack of skilled resources and tools, and ultimately leading to poor quality and slow outputs.


Thus creating a catch 22 scenario where a barrier between what the business teams need and what can be achieved arises and limits progression.


Over the years technical teams have been improving their communication ability to ‘get the business on-side’ through storytelling and data visualisation which has bridged the gap to a degree.

Unfortunately, though, there is still a lot of evidence to suggest that visualisation and storytelling outputs are still ignored and decisions are made on intuition as the business leaders don’t fully understand how to use the data or insight that has been provided.


Becoming data-driven shouldn’t be a fight between teams but seen as a positive way to improve business effectiveness, efficiency and impact.


Business teams are the most knowledgeable about their areas of expertise and where the opportunities are to improve. To be successful in being more data-driven they need to be clear as to how data can help them do their job or to be able to make more informed decisions


But this does also require business and non-technical teams to start understanding the data world more, recognise it as the valuable asset that it is and embrace how it can be beneficial to them.


This is where developing a ‘data mindset’ throughout the organisation becomes a critical necessity.


This isn’t just about improving how to read and interpret data (even though this would be a good start) but how to use data to add value to a business or organisation and an appreciation of the importance of data governance.

The 3 components of a Data Mindset are :

  1. Strategic thinking - to determine the business ‘why’ - where could the biggest difference be made, what decisions need more support.

  2. Critical thinking - looking at a different way to approach the problem, to create hypotheses and the ability to identify what you need to know; using powerful questions to identify what data is needed; and having the ability to turn data into evidence to be able to make decisions.

  3. Data literacy - the ability to understand what the data analysis is telling you, appreciation for what data is available, the context and definitions of the data and also the current data limitations.

The companies that can adopt this mindset will have a better appreciation for how to ‘use’ data, will build stronger collaboration between the business and technical teams to create solutions that work and will be the ones who will have a better chance of becoming data-driven.

We are working with business leaders to support them in their journey to improve their business effectiveness, efficiency and impact by developing a data mindset that enables them to be more data-driven.


If you want to find out more, request a discovery call or drop me an email on tash@wearemojo.co.uk