CIOs recognize the transformative power of data. A recent IDG survey found that IT leaders’ top objectives behind their enterprise data strategy include improving:
- Customer experiences and relationships
- The quality of decision-making
- Security, while minimizing risks
- Employee productivity and morale
Achieving these goals requires a top-down data-driven culture, where everyone within the organization has access to data and can use it as a strategic asset. That journey starts with data literacy: the ability to view, understand, create and communicate data as valuable information.
Unfortunately, most businesses are struggling with data literacy. The bottlenecks start with cultural issues and extend to the reliance on old-school business intelligence tools. For example, a 2019 Deloitte study revealed that 67 percent of senior managers and executives “are not comfortable accessing or using data from their tools and resources.”
Traditional BI often limits individuals’ comfort to explore because these tools themselves have limits — like who is allowed to access and interpret information, and a lack of integration among data sources. Organizations must get over this hump to achieve their data-strategy goals.
The people aspect of a data-driven culture
A focus on data literacy and instituting a data-driven culture means bringing everyone along on the data journey. This was the focus of “Agility and Innovation,” the seventh episode of Domo’s Curiosity: Do Data Differently video series.
“The cultural aspect is important,” says Keith Carter, Associate Professor, School of Computing & Director, NUS FinTech Lab at National University of Singapore. “If we succeed with a data agility project but haven’t brought people along, then [success] stays at the surface. It has to permeate the organization.”
That means empowering as many people as possible, says Donald Farmer, Principal, TreeHive Strategy. “In the past, when businesses were asked, ‘Who does analytics at your organization,’ leaders would answer: a team of data analysts, or a data warehouse specialist, or the IT team,” he says. “But now companies must say: Everyone can do analytics.”
That starts with small, quick-win projects led by data-curious and data-literate individuals, says Mohammed Aaser, Chief Data Officer at McKinsey: “They’re not necessarily technologists or project managers. They’re people who learn rapidly and who understand the business problem. They will bring together the right stakeholders to galvanize people.”
Once you can show some success, he adds, “you capture the imagination of the rest of the organization, and that gives you latitude to do more, build more. It’s about demonstrating value quickly and building momentum to get people behind you.”
Carter agrees: “I like the saying ‘Don’t just tell me, show me.’ Connect the dots between what the person has discovered in the data and the improvement to the business. That builds connection with people and shows their value, but also tells them they can do something with data and be part of the decision-making process.”
The next step
Building data literacy among users is the first step toward becoming a data-driven culture. That means moving beyond traditional solutions toward modern BI tools that help people visualize and tell stories with data.
Pep Boys CIO Jarrod Phipps says: “When our head of operations got here, he couldn’t see inventory across our stores. He didn’t even have access to it. That’s basic stuff. We couldn’t do that with our traditional BI platforms.”
The company starting working with Domo and within days, managers and leaders were able to see value that had previously been hidden in data repositories.
“I have a bunch of very tenured, old-school BI guys,” Phipps says. “They took to Domo by themselves, not because they were told to, and started moving at a pace I’ve never seen.”
The right tools, he says, have empowered the company to “think even bolder and bigger.”
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