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How to build a data culture

Today all companies must consider data to be at their core. The digital age has accelerated the amount of information organisations hold and it’s now considered by many to be their greatest asset as it has the ability to aid growth and success and avoid failure.

Yet although the benefits of data are well documented many companies still aren’t maximising its potential. The easiest way to transform this is to help your organisation develop a data culture.

Marcos Monteiro , Co-Founder, Veezoo looks at five ways how you can form a data culture.

Data culture starts at the top

In order to get buy-in from all employees, those at the top need to lead by example and demonstrate how they use data in their day to day role. It can’t just be a case of ‘it’s for the employees to do’. Everyone needs to participate in a data driven culture.

What can deter the C-Suite with data transparency is the fear that it will expose issues or underperformance within the company. However, don’t be afraid to embrace owning these shortfalls in front of the team. It shows that failures happen but you can learn from them and get better as a result of them.

To encourage its widespread adoption, senior team members should use data to illustrate points as much as possible. For example if you’re explaining why you’ve decided to target a new audience, show the data that supports your decision.

Branch out from the standard data you use in business updates. Rather than just focusing on the obvious sales and growth, include also a few ‘fun’ data points such as ‘guess the time we had the most website traffic this month?’. It makes data more playful and gets people thinking about the reasons behind it, re-evaluating their common assumptions.

Set key metrics to align with the business objectives

One reason businesses fail is that they focus on the wrong metrics and create undesired outcomes. Sometimes, teams set everything in place to focus purely on hitting a target that does not reflect the correct priorities of the company. The trouble comes six months or a year later, when you suddenly realise you weren’t working on the right things and much of the work was done in vain. It’s really critical that the key metrics set the priorities correctly and take into account the wider goals and long term objectives of the company.

Yet, at least having a metric in place is better than having none. People are motivated by goals and targets and this gives them something to work towards. The result of their work becomes more transparent. Yet there are many companies who don’t put metrics in place. So make sure you have them in place and that they serve the right business objectives.

Don’t isolate the data

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All teams and departments need to collaborate so they can get the full data picture. For example the finance department may say that sales were higher than average which on the surface looks great, but the marketing department may have spent more that month. It will also work the other way around, having a lower sales month may not always be a disaster depending on the reasons why.

This approach requires everyone understanding data’s importance and also an infrastructure that supports it. Have the right tools and platforms in place that ensure accuracy, integrity and security of the data.

The right data tools are key

The amount of business software that we use on a daily basis has increased significantly and they all generate a lot of valuable data that can quickly get messy and complex – especially with the likes of human generated data like from a CRM.

CRMs can easily become overwhelming and time consuming, they require a high level of manual input, leading people to leave many fields empty or avoid it altogether. This results in patchy data and doesn’t give the complete business picture.

Take a look at the manual input that you require and decide if it’s all needed and if any of it can be automated using RPA tools. Ensure that if you do have high levels of input needed that team members have adequate time to do so and that you ask for the feedback regularly to help ease any pain points.

Make sure that you are using the data that the team has generated to show how it is benefitting the company. This will then make them and their efforts feel worthwhile and more likely to continue completing as required in the future.

Everyone needs access 

If you want a data culture, you have to make data accessible for everyone – data’s often only shared with the management and not communicated company wide. In addition, accessing databases can be difficult unless you’re experienced or trained so many who could really benefit from accessing data to aid their role aren’t able to.

You want the team to utilise the data to make better and faster decisions and take the company forward. Granting people with the right level of access to real time data is a key step to achieve the next level of data efficiency.

Traditional BI platforms with  drag-and-drop interfaces have gone a long way into making databases more easily accessible, but are still limited to those that have the time and skills to use such tools.  There are many new solutions in the market which provide an intuitive and user-friendly approach , enabling anyone to explore data. The Veezoo platform, for example, works like a search engine for your data, people simply type in a question as if they’re asking a person and the data is returned, along with suggested other insights. This makes data exploration not only fun, but also supports workers to leverage valuable information in their workflow.

Creating a data culture will of course take time and investment. But once you have a company where data is at the heart of the day to day activities it will only bring benefits and help you keep ahead of your market, spot trends, respond quickly to change and minimise failure.

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