By James Baldassarra,VP, Data Sciences.

This article is part of a series

Six top tips to foster a data culture (Data series Part 1)

Data governance isn’t sexy but it is essential (Data series Part 2)

A recent survey of senior executives looking at data analytics functions found that employees’ lack of analytical skills is the most significant barrier preventing a business from becoming a data-driven organization.

The participants came from a cross-section of large companies across northern Europe and the US, but the issues they highlight are no different to those I regularly speak about with Wilson Allen’s law firm customers.

Typically, I break employees into two areas related to analytical skills—creators and consumers.

The creator skill set is often already in place and serving the business to some extent, but the analytical maturity of consumers can make or break the function’s future and the firm’s ability to become data-driven. While new employees tend to be more analytically mature by default, to establish a data-driven culture, a top-down approach is required. Therefore, there is a growing trend of C-level data roles appearing in the industry.

Interestingly, the other issues highlighted in the survey related to governance in one way or another. These barriers include managing compliance, data quality, unwillingness to share data across teams, and limited awareness of available data. As the value of data harmonization is now better understood, these issues are gaining significant attention.

While technology can solve some of these issues, it is essential not to neglect the governance topic in favor of quick technology wins. It is easier to design and implement governance, whether in part or in full, earlier in the journey than to attempt it once data use has already begun.

Firms that establish functions striving for the rightful ownership, quality, and harmonization of their data assets earlier in the journey become more efficient as the business demands more from the information generated and stored. However, this approach must combine technology, process, and people. Therefore, it is critical to establish governance frameworks in parallel with technology solutions to avoid future data issues.

In conclusion, the survey highlights that a lack of analytical skills among employees and governance issues are the primary barriers preventing businesses from becoming data-driven organizations. Establishing a top-down approach and combining technology, process, and people can help firms overcome these challenges and efficiently meet the demands of an increasingly data-driven business environment.

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