The antonym to building a winning data culture is the belief in the tricky idea that I have huge datasets, and that’s enough.
Far too many times, we meet leaders who say- “We are good. We have lots of data, I am sure we can turn that into insights and make it mean something.” A series of probing questions later, we learn that they are actually inundated with data and suffering from ‘decision paralysis’.
We agree with this reality, but disagree with the approach.
There is no shortage of data and even more data is coming in. At the organizational front, ‘Data’ as a global buzzword has admonished leaders to build systems that exist to capture all sorts of unfiltered data, without asking the Socratic question “Why?”. Far few organizations exist where leadership decision-making is backed by objective data-fueled insights with the speed and flexibility that immersive data culture can provide.
To truly enjoy the advantage of being a data-driven organization, leaders have to take charge of nurturing a culture of data. To better understand how organizations led by visionary leaders are promoting data culture, we give you two fresh examples.
Since 2014, the Silicon Valley behemoth’s stock prices have more than doubled; By 2017, over 61% of Microsoft’s workforce was using the company’s self-service data offerings and on Jan 18, 2022, Microsoft carved out $69 billion out of its $137 billion cash reserve to procure gaming giant Activision. A massive pivot.
One can track this evolution back to 2014. As soon as Satya Nadella joined, he announced- “Business is being fundamentally transformed because of data,” Nadella said. “And that doesn’t happen because of technology. It happens because you have to build deeply into the fabric of the company a culture that thrives on data.”
NSW’s Pathology Department
COVID-19 brought astounding challenges to testing- a universally critical step in dealing with the pandemic. Hospital staff had to deal with massive systemic pressure- patients had to be contacted to share the results and with the unprecedented increase due to Covid, the volume of testing increased too. This led to patients waiting for days and at times weeks to receive test results, adding to the anxiety and crippling the workforce.
NSW Health Pathology understood that a secure and direct to patient result system would first get essential workers in isolation back to work faster and also reduce the huge pressure on the infrastructure. To realize this, the team reused ten existing APIs — such as the Observations API, OmniLab System API, Cerner System APIs, and Auditing Service API — to rapidly build and deploy a solution that automatically delivers test results to patients.
The six-year-old data architecture quickly became the fastest result provider in the world, aiding Australia’s fight against Covid. “We are focused on building a foundation for change, so we can respond swiftly to patient needs and an ever-transforming health system,” stated NSWHP’s CIO, James Patterson.
It is safe to state that organizations evolving to meet the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are organizations making data central to their actions and thought leadership. Organizations that are thriving on the digital feedback loop of insights, ideas, and innovation generated by the team or customer can incrementally and rapidly improve their capabilities.
Just building data catchment points is a burden to the system unless the entire process is backed by the leadership’s focus on outcomes and objectives. Working with data has to be a cultural aspect of the organization, part of its everyday working and thought process.
Now the next question is-how to bring about a cultural revolution in your organization? We have made a quick list of 6 issues that leaders ought to address to turn their organizations into ‘Fourth Industrial Age’ success stories.
1. Data Culture and the Leader’s Reckoning
Commitment from the very top is essential and needs to be perennial. Informed conversation with top decision-makers and those who lead data initiatives throughout the organization has to be the norm.
2. Data Culture Promotes Decisiveness
Leaders at times might be tempted to approach data analysis as a cool ‘science experiment’ or as an exercise in collecting data for its own sake. This can be frustrating for everyone involved since the fundamental nature of collecting, analyzing, and deploying data is to make better decisions. Leaders will have to ask themselves –how can I incorporate data into the process of everyday decision-making and work backward.
3. Organically Adopting Data Culture
Data can be exciting, but generating a data-dependent decision-making process can be hard to sustain. To create a genuine culture of data reliance, the demand for data has to be stimulated from the bottom up. Democratize stakeholder capability to build, analyze, and use data has to be promoted. Provide front-line workers tools and technology to synergies data into their everyday operations.
4. Understanding Data and Risk
The technology is after all pretty amazing. Being able to benefit from it can make the most efficient organizations woozy with exhilaration. But leaders need to remember that like everything, data-based tech comes with a package of good and bad. The bright side promotes innovation and growth, while the negatives can cause system failure and trust breakdown. Implementing risk mitigation and data handling in good faith is essential.
5. The New Cadre of Data & People Manager
The leadership has raised the data war cry and front-line workers have responded to it. The key question here- is that enough? To ensure true adoption, the organization will need change agents who can bridge the world of data science and on-ground operations, and usually, they are not data puritans.
6. Data Culture & Talent
The competition for data talent is unrelenting. But there’s another element at play: integrating the right talent for your data culture. That calls for striking the appropriate balance for your institution between injecting new talent and transforming existing ones.
We understand the technical and cultural challenges that leaders can face in incorporating a data-backed vision. We bring along with our expertise, the ability to empathize with the leader’s uphill climb.
Meradesh consulting services can help business and social leaders use this transitionary phase as a trigger to transform, reposition their organizations for the emerging competitive age. The rate of change will compound as we step into the new age of data abundance, but insight scarce. To thrive, we must adapt.