5 Steps to Becoming a Data-Informed Organization

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Blue Planet Studio

The manner in which organizations approach data has changed significantly in recent years. Previously, businesses prioritized mitigating risks associated with data, which meant privacy and security were the focal points. Today, while privacy and security remain important, attention has shifted to accelerating business value through data, with a greater realization that employees are key to extracting actionable insights.

According to research commissioned by Qlik, data-informed organizations have a higher enterprise value of up to USD 500 million. Most employees are now expected to read, communicate with, and use data to inform their decisions on a weekly basis.

However, the challenge for organizations striving to become data driven is the lack of skills within the workforce. While nearly all Australian employees we surveyed in a new report by Qlik and Accenture, The Human Impact of Data Literacy recognize data as an asset, only one in four believe they’re fully prepared to use data effectively, and 20% are fully confident in their data literacy skills.

To harness the potential of data, business leaders must develop a strategy that focuses on human-driven value-creation through data. Here’s how business leaders can practically put people at the heart of their data strategy:

1. Appoint a data champion

Typically the chief data officer (CDO) or chief information officer (CIO), the data champion will look to identify opportunities that align with and will tangibly impact company objectives. Ultimately, their role is to drive a data literate culture by acting as a data ambassador across the organization, working to integrate data into processes, and establishing a change management plan that brings data into all areas of the business.

However, driving a data-literate culture cannot be done alone. The data champion should work with team leaders and department heads to ensure data-oriented working practices are being adopted. This will ensure accountability across the organization and drive positive, internal competitiveness.

By taking this approach, employees will understand the positive contribution data can have both to their own role and the broader business.

2. Get prepared

Like any action that an organization takes, an in-depth analysis should be done in advance to plan appropriately.

Business leaders should work with senior internal stakeholders (and the data champion) to ensure every employee has access to the information and tools they need to succeed with data. The Human Impact of Data Literacy report found only 16% of Australian organizations give everyone in their organisation access to analytics tools appropriate to their job level, so there’s a lot more to be done here.

Businesses should also gain an understanding of the current data skills employees have. This can be done by using a data literacy assessment, which measures the ability of employees to read, understand, and work with data, rather than technical expertise.

Taking the time to adequately prepare ensures a business has a holistic view of employees’ familiarity with data, which will allow the data champion to identify the necessary investments that should be made to empower employees to progress on their data journey.

3. Give employees the right tools

Required tools differ dramatically across different skill levels, so it’s important people have access to what is relevant to them. For example, a business analyst will need different analytics tools than a HR manager.

More importantly, these tools must be integrated into existing working practices to encourage adoption — it’s not enough to give employees the tools and expect them to be used. Businesses can encourage adoption by ensuring tools meet the following criteria:

  • Relevant: does this tool provide useful insights that can inform the decision-making process for that role?
  • Consumable: is the information presented in a way that can be easily digested?
  • Embedded: can this tool be embedded into existing business software, so it is easy to integrate data insights into the user’s working practices?

4. Invest in upskilling your workforce

The benefits of data are only truly realized when everyone in an organization is comfortable and confident using data to inform the decisions they make daily. Our research shows that only one-third of organizations provide data literacy training, which presents a clear opportunity for businesses to gain a competitive edge when trying to retain and attract talent.

Data literacy training can take many forms, however it’s important it is a part of a continuous learning program that ensures skill sets are reinforced and developed on an ongoing basis. With this in mind, the data champion should work closely with the chief people officer (CPO) to evolve the program every year in line with the business’ changing use of data and employees’ needs.

5. Move with the opportunity

Organizations should be fluid in their approach to data, always looking for new opportunities to garner value by informing processes and decision making.

Data has the potential to improve competitive advantage, if it can be harnessed properly. However, succeeding with data requires a broader cultural shift where employees feel empowered to make decisions with data. This cultural shift must be driven from the top down (i.e. the CEO) to become a part of an organization’s DNA, making it truly pervasive.

Our customer, ANZ Bank, is a great example of making data a part of a business’ everyday practices. The bank’s leadership team embodies a culture of data accessibility and use, providing every staff member with access to our platform, encouraging them to develop their own dashboards to generate real business value. ANZ Bank aims to build its entire workforce to be data savvy by creating a data culture.

By following these steps and putting people at the heart of their data strategy, organizations can unlock the potential for data-informed decision-making.

Geoff Thomas, senior vice president for APAC at Qlik, wrote this article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends. Photo credit: iStockphoto/Blue Planet Studio