Innovation is typically born from curiosity. Consider a kitten encountering a ball of yarn; first it approaches with fear, but with touch and movement, the kitten finds it has discovered a new toy.
Similarly, individuals may approach data with fear when there are restrictive organizational controls or a lack of visibility into its sources or flows. And yet, by removing those barriers, enterprises allow individuals to see and explore with data to make better decisions, enhance transformational efforts, and create new opportunities for the business.
In a recent webinar titled Transforming the Culture of Data, participants spoke about the need for a robust data foundation.
“It’s important to have the right platform where data can be accessed and analyzed,” said Tom Thomas, Vice President of Data Strategy, BI and Analytics at FordDirect.
“In addition, the right data foundation offers flexibility,” said Jill Dyché, an independent strategy consultant and founder of nonprofit Outta the Cage.
“If there was a silver lining to COVID-19, it forced executives to embrace change,” Dyché said. “That’s where data comes in. We need to provide a new data agility to be more thoughtful and deliberate. Those companies that will succeed have an established data platform that enables them to quickly pivot.”
That foundation must also have built-in governance capabilities that “give individuals opportunities to go after and exploit data, but do so in a safe and compliant way,” Thomas added.
It’s not about providing an open gusher of data all-at-once. Rather, companies should make access decisions around how users consume it. Then, they should automate the flow of relevant data pipelines with the right governance controls in place.
“The more heavy-weighted the governance, the more taxing to the organization,” Dyché said. “Get away from top-down, executive-heavy teams that develop governance.”
Instead, adopt a wider data-democratizing approach, where participants across the organization discuss access to help “companies be more nimble and give governance higher value,” she said.
The first step: “Companies must have their arms around what and where their data is, its accessibility and its value,” Dyché said.
One approach is to create a taxonomy that profiles the cultures and classifications of data consumers within your organization. At the same time, keep asking: How do we provide data in a sustainable, governed and continually relevant way?
Meanwhile, move away from the “counts and amounts” mentality toward data, where users simply look at the numbers and not seek strategic differentiators. Move toward a data-driven culture that encourages data curiosity and innovation.
“You need to unwind how you’ve classically done things and be more creative,” Dyché said. “Innovation has traditionally been viewed as an ‘a-ha’ moment, when actually it’s usually a series of smaller inspirations. When anybody can have those inspirations, it drives unique value to the business.”
Among the lessons learned from the disruption caused by COVID, it’s that business plans must be flexible and adaptable, Dyché said.
“And that has everything to do not just with our data culture, but our data foundation as well.”
Click here to learn more about how to inspire data curiosity at your organization.