Data analytics has taken off but not everyone is on the same page. While some companies are already making waves with data science, others are still struggling with the basics. Curating a healthy data culture is ever more important now to prevent the gap from growing between those who are embracing analytics and those who are lagging behind.
McKinsey & Company spoke to several executives who may still have a lot to learn, but who have begun practicing a positive data culture to find out more about the principals, motivations and approaches that underpin their data efforts - and there was a general consensus. Here are the key takeaways from those discussions.
- Collect your data with a solution in mind. Collecting data for the sake of having lots of it and hoping that you'll be able to extract something of interest is no good. Engaging with analytics to find relevant insight is about the end goal, and reflecting your findings through data-driven decision making.
- Commitment from the top is vital. To develop a positive data culture, there must be communication between the board or the CEO to ensure that there is a clear understanding of what is being achieved through your company's data practices. This sort of on going conversation keeps everyone on the same page and harvests greater support from top decision makers.
- Democratise your data. Equally as important as support from above, all members of an organisation need to be invested in data. Having an easily accessible database across the organisation gives everyone the power to analyse and innovate, which creates value.
- Build a system for handling risk. Data isn't all dreamy. Every company needs its own regulations and policies for handling data before they start playing with it. Not only that but having blind faith in data can initiate problems. It is important to set up a monitoring system to ensure that conclusions from that data really make sense.
- We've covered support from the top and accessibility from the bottom, but many companies who are successfully engaging with their data found that they got there by using a data middleman. This is a person who can extend into the worlds of both data science and the ground level business operations, with enough knowledge in both fields to be trusted and and communicate with key members at all levels. These people can really catalyse the adoption of data culture.
- Data is an asset, not a shared resource. While previously businesses might house their data in external companies, we are more commonly seeing this move in house. Being able to better access, customise and control data is now seen as a competitive advantage. A lot of companies are choosing to create unique solutions over relying on an external provider who could share the model you requested with multiple other clients.
- Recognise the talent that fits the culture your business is curating. There may be a play off between recruiting new talent and upskilling existing employees. Most companies seem to agree that it's important to select people who bring different things to the table. You might not necessarily be looking for someone with a PhD in computer science, look out for interesting backgrounds that might overlap key needs in your company's subject matter and consider what that candidate might bring.
Setting up a culture for data within your company is a long process, but ultimately, the pay offs will be worth it. When you start using data to solve real business problems, it spark excitement, which in turn builds energy and momentum. The technology works, but it's the culture that will make it thrive.
Read the full McKinsey & Company article here .