How to Build a Data-Driven Culture

Video produced by Steve Nathans-Kelly

There are seven different ideas or elements that make up a data-driven culture. And some companies have all seven. Some companies have a few of them. 

At Data Summit Connect 2021, Practico Analytics data strategist Ruben Ugarte outlined the essential elements of a data-driven culture and provided insight on how organizations can adopt them. According to Ugarte, the seven elements of a data-driven culture are:

  1. Collect and store the right data
  2. Align data with strategy and outcomes
  3. Democratize data access
  4. Deal with psychological issues (e.g., lack of trust)
  5. Break through silos
  6. Provide the right training
  7. Manage expections around data

Collecting the right data is the first step, said Ugarte. The data might be structured data, semi-structured or unstructured, but it is important to understand the different elements. One company might have a digital product and a very limited ecosystem in which it operates while for other businesses it is complex. "As  a company, you want to make sure you understand where the different gaps or blind spots might be in your current data ecosystem."

Walking attendees through the seven steps, Ugarte said it is important to provide training to enable users to become comfortable with the numbers, reading the numbers and understanding what to do with the numbers. "And this is really  the end goal of many data-driven companies, not this assumption that everyone needs an advanced degree to work with numbers, but that you can teach some of those basic ideas and basic ways of working with data."

You want to make sure  that the expectations are being set about how everyone's going to use data, noted Ugarte. Will they use it to back up opinions, to back up projects, new initiatives; is it expected that you're supposed to use it in meetings, reports, and reviews? Is it expected that you can get an answer of that data within a few minutes, not days or weeks or months?

These expectations will then shape how your company and culture thinks about data. "So think about those expectations. Look back at how your team thinks about data, how other teams think about data and what is the best way to  level up those expectations to meet them or just improve them overall. And this, of course, may be completely different. You may have all the right pieces—the technology and the skills, but the expectations may not be there. So you can start to think about what is the missing gap from the seven items that we talked about  when it comes time to building a data-driven culture."