Data Culture: 5 steps for your enterprise to acculturate to data

May 18, 2020
May 18, 2020
18 May 2020

Exploding quantities of data have the potential to fuel innovation and produce more value for organizations. Stimulated by the hopes of satisfying customers, enterprises have, for the past decade or so, invested in technologies and paid handsomely for analytical talent. Yet, for many, data-driven culture remains elusive, and data is rarely used as the basis for decision making.

The reason is because the challenges of becoming data-driven aren’t technical, but rather cultural. Describing how to inject data into decision-making processes is far more easier than to shift an entire organization’s mindset! In this article, we describe five ways to help enterprises create and sustain data culture at its core.

By 2023, data literacy will become an explicit and necessary driver of business value, demonstrated by its formal inclusion in over 80% of data and analytics strategies and change management programs.


What is data culture?

”Data culture” is a relatively new concept that is becoming increasingly important to put in place, especially for organizations developing their digital and data management strategies. Just like organizational or corporate culture, data culture refers to a workplace environment where decisions are made through emphatic and empirical data proof. In other words, executives make decisions based on data evidence, and not just on instinct.

Data culture gives organizations more power to organize, operate, predict, and create value with their data.

>> Check out our webinar: Why does data culture matter <<

Here are our five tips for creating and sustaining data culture:

Step 1: Align with business objectives

The fundamental objective of collecting, analyzing, and deploying data is to make better decisions.” (McKinsley)

Trusting your data is one of the most important tips for building data culture, as distrust in data leads to disastrous organizational culture. And to trust in data, it must align with business objectives. To drive strategic and cultural changes, it is important for the enterprise to agree on common business goals, as well as the relevant metrics to measure achievements or failures across the entire organization.

Ask yourself the right questions: How can we not only get ahead of our competitors, but also maintain the lead? What data would we need to decide what our next product offering should be? How is our product performing in the market? By introducing data into your business decision-making process, your enterprise will have already made the first step to building a data culture.


Step 2: Destroy data silos

In this case, data silos refer to departments, groups, or individuals who are the guardians of data, who don’t share, or don’t know how to share, data knowledge with other parts of the enterprise. When crucial information is locked away and available to only a few connaisseurs, it prevents your company from developing a cross-departmental data culture. It is also problematic on a technical standpoint: multiple data pipelines are harder to monitor and maintain, which leads to data being stale and obsolete by the time anyone uses it for decision making.

To break data silos, enterprises must put in place a single source of truth. Empower employees to make data-driven decisions by relying on a centralized solution. A data catalog enables both technical and non-technical users to understand and trust in the enterprise’s data assets.

>> Check out our blog post: What is a data catalog? <<

Step 3: Hire data-driven people

When building a data culture, it’s important to hire data-driven people. Enterprises are reorganizing themselves, forcing the creation of new roles to support this organizational change:


Data Stewards

Data Stewards are here to orchestrate an enterprise’s data systems. Often called the “masters of data”, they have the technical and business knowledge of data. Their main mission is to ensure the proper documentation of data and facilitate their availability to their users, such as data scientists or project managers for example.

This profession is on the rise! Their social role allows data stewards to work with both technical and business departments. They are the first point reference for data in the enterprise and serve as the entry point to access data.


Chief Data Officers

Chief Data Officers, or CDOs for short, play a key role in the enterprise’s data strategy. They are in charge of improving the organization’s overall efficiency and the capacity to create value around their data. At first, CDOs had to lead a mission to convince interest organizations to exploit data. The first few years of this mission were often supported by the construction of a data universe adapted to new uses, often in the form of a Data Lake or Data Mart. But with the exponential development of data, the role of the CDO took a new scope. From now on CDOs must reconsider the organization in a cross-functional and globalizing way. They must become the new leaders of Data Democracy!

In order to obtain the support for data initiatives from all employees, they must not only support them in understanding data (original context, production, etc.) but also help them to invest in the production strategy and the exploitation of data.


Step 4: Don’t neglect your metadata

When data is created, so is metadata (its origin, format, type, etc.). However, this type of information is not enough to properly manage data in this expanding digital era; data managers must invest time in making sure this business asset is properly named, tagged, stored, and archived in a taxonomy that is consistent with all of the other assets in the enterprise.

This metadata allows for enterprises to assure greater Data quality & discovery, allowing data teams to better understand their data. Without metadata, enterprise find themselves with datasets without context, and data without context has little value.


Step 5: Respect the various data regulations

If you’re in Europe, this is old news by now. With the GDPR put into place in May 2018 as well as all of the other various regulations slowly seeing the day in the United States, UK, or even Japan, it is important for enterprises to respect and follow the guidelines to conform.

>> If you aren’t sure if you conform, check out our articles on GDPR compliance <<

Implementing data governance is a way to ensure that all personal data privacy, data security, and ensure risk management. It is a set of practices, policies, standards, and guides that will supply a solid foundation to ensure that data is properly managed thus, creating value within an organization.


Step 6 BONUS TIP: Choose the right solutions

Metadata management is the new black: it is an emerging discipline, necessary for enterprises wishing to bolster innovation or regulatory compliance initiatives on their data assets. A metadata management solution offers enterprises a centralized platform to empower all data users in their data culture implementation.

For more information on metadata management, contact us!

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At Zeenea, we work hard to create a data fluent world by providing our customers with the tools and services that allow enterprises to be data driven.

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Chez Zeenea, notre objectif est de créer un monde “data fluent” en proposant à nos clients une plateforme et des services permettant aux entreprises de devenir data-driven.

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Das Ziel von Zeenea ist es, unsere Kunden "data-fluent" zu machen, indem wir ihnen eine Plattform und Dienstleistungen bieten, die ihnen datengetriebenes Arbeiten ermöglichen.

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