Data is instrumental for any successful organization. The difficult part is getting everyone excited about something that can be new or even frustrating for many employees. So how do you get your team on board? The key is establishing and sustaining a culture of data in your organization. Here are our recommendations for how to do so.
Culture Starts at the Top
Everyone knows the importance of leading by example. Data culture must start at the top! Company executives need to work with their data scientists to establish that foundation. When people within the organization move all the way through from the cultural part of it, they’re not running by intuition or, as I say, flying by gut feel. They’re flying by instrumentation, and it will accelerate the things that matter in any company.
Make Decisions Around the Data
When it really comes down to it, Microsoft Power BI is meant for driving business decisions. What gets measured, gets done right. It means regular measurement and reporting keeps you and your team focused — because you use that information to make decisions to improve your results. That’s the next step as you begin to establish this this data culture, right? Once users start utilizing the reports, even beyond a Proof of Concept (POC), it gives them a sense of ownership of the data. Your most significant measurements are called Key Performance Indicators and they should be emphasized with everyone in your organization and throughout different departments.
Maintaining the Data
Businesses must be able to trust that data is accurate and reliable. How’s this accomplished? By making sure all parties maintain proper data integrity practices. For example, we’ve seen instances where all the back-end data is saved in Excel files in SharePoint. It creates an absolute mess but at some point, someone decides — hey I want this to be efficient. I want this to be accurate; easy to refresh and maintain. I want this to be clean. That mindfulness has to penetrate throughout the entire organization. In a recent instance, a client went ahead and actually cleaned up all of the back-end data on her own time. Now the report is refreshing as it should, without failure, and the data is good quality data reviewed by executives at the company.
At IronEdge, we talk a lot about reliability. Reliability in the data is something that really drives user adoption. It’s important for users to see a simulacrum of their KPIs and metrics implemented in a proof of concept. You can’t make well informed decisions with unreliable data, so establishing a culture of data cleanliness and data action really is talking about increasing the reliability of data. We’ve encountered so many organizations where executives want nothing more than to easily pull up a report in the middle of a meeting. If the data isn’t reliable, then it has little purpose.
Ensuring you have a reliable data set or report comes down to how much you’re willing invest to make sure that your back-end architectures and processes in place are generating clean data. One thing I’ve noticed—there are two approaches really for adopting a culture of data. The first is the classic way of high spend high reward. There’s a lot of organizations out there that have success in using the tools they have available to them, though. Whether it’s Mike who’s into the Power Platform with Microsoft 365 or any developers that companies may have on staff. A very low spend is essentially required for many sanitization processes for their ETL (extract, transform, load) pipelines. It’s really just the willingness to put forth the effort to adopt that data culture, streamline processes, make sure your data is clean. That increases reliability and, therefore, makes users depend a little bit more on the data.
To mitigate potential risk, you must guarantee data privacy is recognized and the data within your organization is used securely. Users should be completely trained on the consequences that can come about when data isn’t appropriately protected. Part of creating a data-driven culture is helping everyone understand they play a major role in securing these digital assets.
Once you’ve got people engaged, interested and interacting with the data, then you begin to establish this culture within the organization of making decisions around the data. If nothing else, the processes that are in place have to support the data entry and the cleanliness of the data. Maintaining the data, accessibility and the security of the data and all of that starts to change the way that the company functions—mostly in a positive way.