Companies are rapidly recognizing the need to become data-driven — especially because the alternative is getting left in the dust when their competitors inevitably do.
However, becoming driven by data as a whole organization starts with and depends on the series of smaller decisions made by employees at every level. Like building blocks, the decisions stakeholders reach after analyzing data and drawing conclusions are the foundation for the company at large to experience the benefits of becoming data driven.
It won’t happen overnight, nor automatically. Businesses must do everything they can to encourage data driven decision-making as the new norm.
Here are five tips to get started.
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Develop a Data-Friendly Culture
As one expert points out for Harvard Business Review, the most substantial obstacles companies encounter on their journey toward becoming data-driven generally aren’t technical — they’re cultural. The biggest challenge is making data-driven decision making “normal, even automatic, for employees.”
Culture affects attitude, which in turn affects behavior. Start by examining how leaders talk about and use data in their own processes. The C-suite sets the example for managers, who in turn set the example for their direct reports. Take opportunities during all-hands meetings to discuss data — its importance, its tangible impact and how it relates to various roles.
Invest in Self-Service & AI Analytics
Intuitive, self-service business intelligence tools, or the lack thereof, have a major effect on subsequent adoption rates — and therefore the percentage of users actually incorporating data insights into their workflows.
Legacy systems discouraged quick, convenient data analysis by requiring users to submit requests for reports through separate specialized teams. The latest wave of self-service software democratizes data for non-power users and allows them to get answers to questions in seconds.
This shift will require an investment, but the potential ROI is high as these tools are necessary to proliferate timely data-driven decision-making led by “average” users.
Stakeholders must feel comfortable working with data on the front-end, as well as their ability to analyze it, draw meaningful and accurate conclusions and share findings with others. Lack of a common “data language” and baseline proficiency throws a wrench in collaboration.
As Training Industry notes, data fluency includes:
The ability for users to understand data insights
The ability for users to communicate data insights
The ability to use insights to make informed decisions
Creating a companywide lexicon of data terms helps, as does providing targeted training by role to help everyone get on the same page when it comes to taking advantage of the data at their disposals.
Demonstrate the Benefits of Data-Driven Decision Making
Oftentimes companies rolling out data initiatives fail to address why — as in, why should users care? This means it’s the job of leaders to provide tangible examples of situations in which data makes a difference — and to demonstrate both the individual and systemwide effects of harnessing data.
Tying data usage into performance reviews is another way to help employees feel more connected to data effects. Rather than viewing data usage as a hypothetical or a job for other teams, employees can see how data matters to their job duties specifically.
Recognize Results, Outcomes & Accomplishments
Celebrate data-driven accomplishments and highlight the results when they have directly influenced better business outcomes. Laud employees for citing data to make suggestions, innovate and back up their points in meetings. These gestures go a long way toward positively reinforcing the role of data within the company.
Encouraging enterprise decision-making driven by data is a matter of bringing together the right tools, culture, fluency efforts, adoption efforts and recognition of desired outcomes.
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