Digital Transformation needs a Data-Driven culture

Aart Willem de Wolf Published at

Get started via 5 key principles

Even though Big Data, Data Analytics and Digital Transformation have made their way to the top of the corporate agenda, a great many organisations are still struggling to realise the benefits these promise.

This is despite huge investment in tooling. Research shows that nearly 50% of companies have already invested in Big Data technology and more than 70% of those enterprises plan to invest again. Leaders are evidently convinced there is worthwhile value. But if they’re not seeing the expected impact, are they just throwing good money after bad?

At R&G, we believe the reported lack of results comes down to having a one-sided approach to data. Technology and tooling are certainly useful. But these can only be effective within a Data-Driven culture. Your people need to be fully onside with how data is used and fully capable of working with it. They need to appreciate, understand and value data enough to welcome its presence in the decision-making process, at every level.

With this in mind, here are 5 key principles which underpin a Data-Driven culture:

  1. Data-driven decision making
    The basis on which decisions are made is fundamental to shaping an organisation’s culture. You thereby need to ensure data-driven insights always play a prominent role in your decision making.
  2. Challenging opinions with data
    Organisational culture is driven by leadership behaviour. If leaders are to convince others to trust in data, they need to demonstrate willingness to have their own opinions challenged by it. All too often, people use data to confirm preconceptions, rather than allowing it to deliver new insights by disproving popular assumptions. Fundamental change is about breaking with existing paradigms. The big question, of course, is do you know your paradigms, and have you validated them?
  3. Connecting data with business needs
    The whole point in developing a data-driven culture is to improve business performance. It’s therefore imperative that you use your data in a relevant way, i.e. there needs to be a connection with your business needs. You can start by using data to qualify what these needs are.
  4. Developing analytical capabilities
    Your ability to benefit from data highly depends on how capable your people are when it comes to working with it. A massive 70% of senior industrial leaders are aware that their organisations are significantly lacking in the resources to support a Data-Driven culture. Such gaps indicate a need to train existing staff to build new capabilities, as well as the creation of new roles.
  5. Democracy of data
    A data-driven culture can only exist when the relevant data is democratised. This means it has to be available to everybody in the organisation, so they have the opportunity to speak up if their statements are supported by data. Nevertheless, company policies and politics often prevent this. And leaders may feel threatened by losing their privileged access to knowledge. Are you the kind of leader who’ll break down old paradigms and enable democracy of data?

If any or all of these principles don’t currently exist in your organisation, you have plenty of work to do to if you want to achieve a Data-Driven culture. You’ll probably need to make changes in organisational setup, leadership style, roles & responsibilities and the decision-making process. But the outcomes will be well worth the effort, as you’ll finally start to see the return on any tools you’ve invested in. The question is, are you committed to the cause?

If you’d like to know more about creating a Data-Driven culture or becoming a Data-Driven Leader, feel free to reach out to me!

Also check out R&G’s proven Data-Driven Leadership solutions which support Digital Transformation.

Aart Willem de Wolf is Managing Partner for R&G Global Consultants in The Netherlands

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