A recent article/survey in The Times about how companies need to build a real-time data architecture to give customers actionable insights got Wilson Allen’s lead expert in Data Sciences, James Baldassarra, thinking: just what are some of the cultural aspects that need to be addressed when data is consumed within an organization?

The technology that a business uses to mine, store and make data available is becoming increasingly prolific. As a result, combining data from business systems to deliver insightful analytics to consumers has become easier to achieve.

But technology is only part of the picture. In addition, some ‘soft skills’ and organizational elements need to be tackled before consumers can trust, understand and then act on the available data.

Savvy senior executives will be considering some or all of the following initiatives.

  • Manage data governance at the point of data use: A business must show it understands the data it consumes and establish trust with customers early. Governance of where data comes from, the validation process and establishing who owns the source of origin are essential steps towards adoption. This is compounded further now that there is a big focus on breaking down data silos.
  • Train people in the use of data across the business: Owners, curators and consumers of an organization’s data should be aware of each other’s different needs. Only then can they exist in harmony and ensure the value of a business’s data is being harnessed correctly.
  • Appoint data stewards: Lack of trust is the biggest killer of adoption related to data. Designating responsibility for data quality within each business unit helps maintain the source of origin. Each designated data steward should come together to understand how their respective teams play into the broader data strategy and how the consumer community is benefiting from their unit’s data.
  • Establish an internal data community: Involve a broad spectrum of business personnel when establishing a data community. Stakeholders from data ownership, provisioning, analytics and consumption should be part of establishing an efficient way to bring information together to serve the consumer in a way that adds the most value to them. The effective use of data is a great way to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Improve collaboration between data analytics and the wider business: Emphasize by strategy and delivery that data is a tool to do better business and drive strategic initiatives. Partnering with a business unit on a specific objective, establishing a baseline to measure against and delivering a solution is the best way to socialize the value of data among the wider business.

While technology is essential, establishing a strategy and working on culture are equally important and should be considered in parallel to any technology decisions.

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