How to Build a Data Culture: A Guidebook for Leaders

Angie Abratiguin
8 minute read

Data culture has become the star attraction in a world full of technological advancements. Indeed, every traditional business is getting disrupted at a magical speed.

With every passing day, guesswork is being replaced by artificial intelligence and machine learning-based data analytics. Moreover, creating a data-driven culture has become a necessity. This ensures a smoother transition of organizations into the future.

Before we move into the how of creating a data culture, it is crucial to understand what data culture is and why you should care about it anyway.

What Is Data Culture, and What Is Behind Its Massive Prominence?

In straightforward terms, the word culture refers to the way of life of a particular group of people at a specific time. A data-driven culture is where data is placed at the core of the decision-making process in an institution, firm, or even a country.

Robust technological growth has made conventional decision-making models obsolete. Statistics show that most organizations with a data-driven culture have achieved phenomenal growth and won the race of employee engagement and retention. To understand why data culture is so popular, let us compare it with traditional hierarchical and consensus cultures.

Hierarchical Culture: An Innovation Killer

Hierarchical culture in an organization is where the highest-paid person makes all the decisions. This approach is solely built on a single person’s wisdom and experiences.

No matter how talented that individual is, this model eventually leads to the demise of innovation as multiple brains are not involved while decisions are made.

Consensus Culture: Decision Making at Snail’s Pace

This type of culture requires everyone to be brought on board before making a decision. As you keep including more brains for decision-making, the process becomes considerably slower.

Such a compromise is never affordable for a growing business in a fast-paced world. Sure, more brains may lead to better decisions. But oftentimes, they will step on each other’s “brainy toes.”

When this happens, you’re stuck in endless meetings that shouldn’t even be emailed. When data is properly used, the right decisions come naturally.

Now that we know what made the creation of data culture a necessity let us move towards the crux of this article and take a detailed look into how data culture is created.

Creating a Data Culture: You’re Unstoppable When Your Talent Is Powered by the Right Data Approach

As Rome was not built in a day, the same is the case with the journey towards creating a strong data culture. You need to garnish it with the right amount of human insight topping. Vast chunks of data alone can never ensure the proper implementation.

Let’s see the play-by-play of this approach. I promise it’s far less complicated than it sounds at first read.

Step 1: Place the Right Cards Together

For this purpose, you need to bring in above-average talent. So, the job starts with you having a deeper look into your team of data experts.

This process will identify the skills required to achieve what you are looking for. Once that is done, onboarding additional people with the targeted skillset comes into play. However, it is of crucial importance that you onboard new talent and upscale the existing one.

Step 2: Is Your Organization Ready for Such a Leap?

Data is magical. It can give you insights you never even thought existed.

But you can’t build a data-driven culture on a non-existent foundation. If you’re a regular on the SyncApps blog, you know we always recommend taking things step-by-step. Organizational transformation shouldn’t happen overnight.

This is why organizational readiness is of utter importance when implementing enhanced data-driven decision-making. If the plan backfires, it can turn this massive opportunity into an equally menacing problem.

Bringing a group of data experts who can absorb the complexities and have the talents to communicate them effectively is pivotal in achieving the state of readiness.

However, suppose you feel that your co-workers/employees are hesitant to change? Our State of Automation and Integration Report revealed that one of the main causes why integration adoption lags behind in SMEs is the lack of corporate buy-in.

Download the full report here for more insights into integration and data readiness!

Your peers may not see the benefits of data yet. Does this mean you have to hire data scientists? Not really — you most likely have the talent you need. You just have to show them how data can work for your business goals without major investments — of time and money.

For instance, on SyncApps, you can jumpstart your data culture with ZERO lines of code. Everything you need is plug-and-play. It takes a few minutes to set up your integrations and start embedding data into your every department.

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Getting buy-in for data-leveraging solutions is just the first part of your journey. When your executives and colleagues get on board, you need still need to prove that they made the right call. This proof starts with:

Step 3: Structure Your Data and Bring Everyone on Board

Data quality should always take precedence over quantity. Small data pools that are properly leveraged can do so much more for you than huge, scattered, siloed data lakes.

So, before you get started, ponder this: what types of data can you build your culture on? Which data can you use today to help meet your business goals: better ROI, more revenue, better campaigns?

Remember what I said above about talent and data working together? This is the time to bring your in-house talent on board. Ask for their opinion about the questions above. Ask what data does their department hold that needs better structuring.

A data culture can’t exist without getting everyone on board from the very beginning. You can’t introduce new data approaches or solutions out of the blue. Creating a data culture was never meant to be an office surprise party.

Step 4: Make Your Data Accessible to Everyone

Once you have your data in a structured form, it will be easier to make it accessible for all your departments. This is another key step in the creation of data culture.

Therefore, data needs to be accessible to the right person at the right time. This will simplify business processes and get buying from everyone — even the laggards in your company.

Data accessibility will make them work strategically rather than getting holed up in silos.

Democratization of data is the aim here.

Learn how Data Geeks Lab helps nonprofits fall in love with their data by making it more accessible through integration. Check out their full story here.

Step 5: Merge Data Analysis and Business Operations

Relying solely on a data analysis team to implement data culture is not the solution. This will only isolate the data analysis team without them knowing the business value of the data they are working on.

Therefore, integrating data analysts with business operations will help them understand the business value.

Step 6: Data Culture Should Be Employee-Centric

Most implementations fail when they are presented as an abstract notion. You need to present the idea of data culture in a tangible, result-oriented form so that your staff realizes the benefits it brings.

Need help with use cases of what data can specifically do for your business? Check out our library of customer stories to learn how companies just like yours got better ROI, saved dozens of hours every month, and built better processes altogether. Can’t find what you need? Our support department is here 24/7 to help you build your very own data-centric use case.

Data Culture: Gradually Becoming a Necessity

The need for a data-driven culture is increasing manifold. It is because it brings accuracy and uniformity to decision-making. Research proves that creating a strong data culture will significantly increase revenue, enhance employee satisfaction, and aid employee retention.

After all, creating a data culture means empowering your team to work smarter and more efficiently. Help them say goodbye to menial tasks and hello to more free time to come up with data-driven strategic insights.

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