Fostering A Data Culture Within An Organization
By Brendan Watkins, chief analytics officer, Stanford Children’s Health.
The purpose of analytics is to provide insights using data to enable people in an organization to make smarter decisions. It gives decision-makers a better understanding of what is going on, what has happened, why it happened, and what is likely to occur based on hard data. Done well, analytics will improve the overall performance of the organization.
It is important to ensure that insights are spread throughout a company in a strategic way to maximize the benefits. Just as an organization’s culture is a major factor in its performance, its data culture is crucial to spreading this wealth of knowledge and information.
What is data culture?
Data culture is a broad term encompassing various aspects. The most obvious aspect is how much value executives place on data and analytics, and how aligned leaders are on the organizational data strategy. How leaders view analytics has a huge impact on the motivation of analysts to improve their skills at reading, interpreting and analyzing standardized data (also known as data literacy.) Data culture requires connection among the cohort of analysts as well as the organization’s data strategies, and it is critical to establish a network that permeates the organization.
The formal way to establish this network is through the establishment of federated analytics and named analytics power users. This structure enables alignment while empowering analysts with tools, data and support they need. It is important that these analysts glean value from the collaboration and are incentivized to obtain valuable skills and relationships.
The informal network of relationships is key to developing a positive and impactful data culture. The data governance structures should support a strategic roadmap of analytics initiatives undertaken as partnerships between the central analytics team and analysts in business areas. Shared ownership in developing analytics solutions fosters a virtuous cycle whereby the team members have deeper buy-in.