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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Building a Data-Driven Culture in Your Enterprise: Introducing the 4 Pillars

As a CDO, you can enable effective monetization of your enterprise data and develop a data-driven culture by paying attention to these four critical areas.

If your enterprise has been in operation for a decade or more, then chances are that yours is a brand that consumers recognize and trust. You probably have significant percentage of highly tenured employees.. In the last seven or eight years, everything in your world has gone digital. As a result, your technology stacks became dated, your processes became outdated, and many (if not most) of your employees feel overwhelmed with the digital world around them.

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To deal with this, in the last five years your organization has likely undertaken a massive digital transformation. Your enterprise is investing in new technology stacks, new information flows, new processes, new data warehouses, new (possibly shiny) BI tools, and you want to put all these changes to work so you can make the best business decisions. You must move from a go-with-your-gut philosophy to making decisions based on data so your enterprise can thrive in this digital world.

Even with all this change, the journey to become data-driven seems to have just begun.

If this is you, you are not alone. You have started working on one of the four crucial pillars for building and scaling a culture of data -- namely, data maturity. As a CDO (or someone from the CDO's office), you bear responsibility for your organization's data strategy, governance, security, policies, and data life cycle management. You ensure that people in your organization have easy and appropriate access to the correct data. In other words, you deliver on data maturity for your organization.

Many CDOs stop there, and they shouldn't.

According to Gartner's 2019 Chief Data Officer 4.0, the CDO office is also responsible for creating business value from the data -- that is, data monetization. Data is useless unless you effectively leverage it to drive decisions and deliver value.

As a CDO, how can you enable effective monetization of your data? You do not own the product road map, the marketing, or any of the monetization channels. How, then, can you still fulfill your role?

By developing an enveloping, solid culture of data in which every individual decision maker can use the data your team has worked so hard to standardize and make accessible. This data-driven culture is developed by improving the following four pillars of data culture.

Data maturity. Solid data maturity is foundational to a data culture. Your organization's data maturity manifests itself in every individual in your organization having an easy and appropriate level of access to the clean and accurate data they need. Most organizations with a well-defined CDO role are already on their way to a high level of data maturity.

Data-driven leadership. Leaders define the culture of their organization. A data-driven leader supports a culture of data by demonstrating data-driven decision making and by holding the team members accountable for their own decisions so that they, too, become data-driven. A data-driven leader sees data as a strategic asset and makes "think and act data" a key strategic priority.

Data literacy. If individual decision makers aren't sufficiently data literate to leverage their data and turn it into insights that drive decisions, data won't deliver value, even if leaders are data-driven and the organization's data maturity is optimal. The CDO office needs to invest in enterprise wide data literacy, where every role is upgraded with the right level of data science skills.

Data-driven decision-making processes. Finally, your enterprise needs to establish a structured process of forward-looking decision making and backward-looking reviews of those decisions. Additionally, data needs to be an integral part of your decision-making processes to get full value from your data. Most organizations don't have a systematic, data-driven decision-making processes.

A Final Word

Becoming data-driven is more than just a switch from decisions based on instinct and intuition to decisions based on information. As a CDO, you are well familiar of data maturity's role in becoming data driven. To be successful, you must realize that the second, third, and fourth pillars are just as important to creating business value from your data.

About the Author

Piyanka Jain is the author of Behind Every Good Decision, an actionable guide for business managers on data-driven decision-making through business analytics. She is also president and CEO of Aryng, an analytics consulting company focused on driving business impact with data. She writes for publications including Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and InsideHR. Jain has been an analytics leader for more than 15 years; she seeks out patterns and insights to drive change in her clients’ organizations and impact top levers of business. She considers customer satisfaction, empowerment, and positive engagement as the highest rewards, and dollar impact as a natural consequence. Jain has two master’s degrees with theses involving applied mathematics and statistics.

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