How To Build and Maintain a Strong Data Culture

Written by Tereza Seidelova  | 

How To Build and Maintain a Strong Data Culture

Data is all around us and is becoming the new language of business. To improve results, every company needs to learn how to use data effectively. How can they do that? By adopting a data culture.

Data culture refers to behaviors, beliefs, and practices that lead to data-driven decisions. With a data-driven decision-making process, you can achieve fast and effective decisions that give rise to innovation and business expansion. To learn more about data culture and its benefits, check out our article What is data culture and why it matters.

In this follow-up article, we will walk you through the key points to consider when creating and fostering a data culture.

How To Build a Data Culture in 8 Steps

There's no universal tutorial on how to develop a data culture. Each organization will take a slightly different approach. However, many of these companies face similar obstacles related to changing the perception of data within their organization. Shifting this mindset and implementing new processes is the solution that drives efficiency.

Let's look at a few specific points that are crucial for creating a long-lasting data culture.

1. Develop a Data-Focused Mindset

Data is often perceived as purely technical. This perspective is one of the biggest obstacles to developing a data-focused mindset. It's important to realize that data is integral to business operations and processes, enabling the creation of insights and dashboards. These reports allow you to see data in context, helping you to make business decisions based on logic and fact rather than gut feeling and intuition.

As well as accepting the role of data in the business process, it is important to align on a common language across the organization. Agreeing on specific definitions allows employees to easily share ideas and best practices. Collaboration builds trust, which is the foundation of a data culture company.

2. Drive the Change From Top To Bottom

Data-driven leadership is crucial to success. Leaders must understand the benefits of data analytics, so they can lead by example. They should use data in their communication and daily activities. This will help employees to understand the benefits and develop trust in data. If the leadership continues with its legacy processes, the data approach will not garner confidence or become part of the decision-making process.

3. Set a Goal

Gathering data is only helpful if you can extract information and knowledge from it. You can only get this information if you know what you're looking for. It is crucial that leadership sets a goal first. This done, you can start to consider the approach, how you can achieve it, and the data you need.

4. Ask the Right Questions and Choose the Right Metrics

Once you know the goal, you can ask questions such as: Where can I find the data? How can I collect the data? and What data-driven tool should I use? By asking these questions you'll discover the approach you need to choose, how you might display the data and the best way to tell the story. This process will help you to select the right metrics to achieve the goal. Don't underestimate this step, as wrong metrics can significantly affect outcomes.

5. Ensure Data Literacy

Another problem comes with visualizing the data. People are often able to collect the data, but don't know how to interpret the results. According to Gartner, poor data literacy is among the top three barriers to building strong data and analytics teams.

What does data literacy actually mean? It is the ability to understand and work with data: to read, analyze, and challenge it. This begins with data collection using analytical tools and ends with deciding how to communicate the data and forming data-driven decisions (the whole process can be seen in image 1).

Although everybody needn’t be a data expert, data literacy training is necessary. Consider the existing skill levels of your employees and the level they need to reach based on their job responsibilities. Create a data literacy program, train employees, and make sure they use the newly adopted skills in their daily activities. Leaders should be part of the training sessions, as the data-driven mindset starts from the top.

Why not try our 30-day free trial?

Fully managed, API-first analytics platform. Get instant access — no installation or credit card required.

Get started

6. Choose the Right BI Tool

A BI tool alone won’t ensure a healthy and efficient data culture; a shift in mindset and data literacy is also needed. However, a BI tool remains one of the key pillars of making the data culture work. Legacy technologies often present a barrier to new working methods, making it harder for employees to break their old working habits.

How can you choose the right tool for data-driven culture? Invest in the data analytics tool that ensures high-quality and accessible data that is shareable across the organization. This will make it easier to ensure data transparency and knowledge sharing.

It helps to choose a self-service BI tool suitable for business and technical users. Business users can use no-code/low-code solutions, while technical people can use advanced features, such as SDKs, APIs, and such. Remember to provide learning opportunities for the teams that will be using more advanced options.

What is data literacy?
What is data literacy?

7. Organize Your Data

Store data in one centralized place in a single location to make data sharing easier. Ensure the data is clean, up-to-date, sorted, and transparent.

Data should be accessible to all employees, as it breaks barriers between departments and groups. Editing permission can be limited to specific data groups, but everyone should receive viewing rights. That way, your employees can access the most recent information and make more accurate decisions.

8. Use Data Culture To Bring Benefits To Your Employees

Why do companies adopt a data culture? Usually to improve customer experience and business results. You will never achieve this without improving the working experience of your employees. Communicate the benefits of data culture to them and adopt new ways of working to motivate staff. They need to see real results, such as time-saving, increased efficiency, and avoiding having to do two things twice.

How To Maintain a Data Culture

Data culture is not a process you can establish in one day and then leave to take care of itself. It takes time to develop, you need to constantly foster it. Tips to keep your data culture up and running include:

1. Use Data in Daily Decision-Making

In a strong data culture, data is the daily bread of all employees, even when solving simple tasks. Develop the habit of supporting each and every idea with data. If a question arises and you don't know the answer, ask yourself: What data could help me to answer and decide?

This approach applies to both individuals and teams. Make data an essential part of every discussion. Consider what happened, why it happened, and how it affects you (see the milestones of the decision-making process in image 2). Share the data within your team and company, discuss the solution and alternatives, and explain why you might choose one approach over another. This allows people to fully understand the issue and consider a broader range of options.

Decision-making process
Decision-making process

2. Keep Up With New Trends

Data culture is a dynamic concept. You need to stay responsive and react to changes in the market and the digital world. After some time, maintaining the data-driven culture might require a shift in approach, such as adopting new tools or setting up new processes.

3. Train Your Employees Regularly

Continue to train employees beyond the beginning of the data-culture development process. You need to provide them with regular opportunities to improve their skills, so they can keep up with fast-developing technologies. You can also make data literacy training part of the onboarding process, so new employees feel confident working with data from the very beginning.

4. Share Knowledge

Sharing knowledge or the success of the company, teams, or individuals helps to motivate and inspire. You can use different communication tools (e.g., Slack), videos, and blogs, organize regular update meetings, or share the results on your company portal.

5. Make Data Fun

Data doesn’t have to be boring. You can think of activities that support a data-centric mindset. Activities such as Hackathon are quite famous and popular among employees. Alternatively, why not organize data competitions for formal and informal company events?

Are You Ready To Create a Data Culture That Will Stick?

Developing a data culture is a long-term step-by-step process that involves responding to new trends along the way. When creating and fostering a data culture, remember these three key points:

  • The shift to a data-driven mindset begins at the top.
  • The promotion of data literacy is vital.
  • The need for a BI tool.

GoodData offers a flexible BI solution and embedded analytics for internal and external purposes. Embedded analytics allows you to integrate data analytics into your website or application, making data an integral part of your website and easily accessible to all employees. Data then becomes part of your everyday activities, making the shift to a data-driven mindset easier. GoodData provides a drag-and-drop experience and low-code features for business users, and a suite of developer tools and APIs for technical users

If you are about to begin building a data culture or considering improving an existing one, try GoodData Cloud. It will help you to solve one of your biggest challenges when creating a data culture.

Why not try our 30-day free trial?

Fully managed, API-first analytics platform. Get instant access — no installation or credit card required.

Get started

Written by Tereza Seidelova  | 


Subscribe to our newsletter

Get your dose of interesting facts on analytics in your inbox every month.