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Anyone can work with data, right? That would be the best starting point. But unfortunately, that is not the case in our day-to-day projects and with our customers. We all agree that dealing with data is becoming an indispensable core skill and one that is always needed when companies want to make decisions and answer new questions regarding organisation, processes, strategy, products and services.

One of the biggest challenges at the moment is that the process of becoming a data-driven company entails a profound cultural change. A company simply just using state-of-the-art data and analytics tools or only establishing a data-first approach in its management or analytics unit does not make it ‘data-driven’ or ‘data-minded’. The organisation, processes and responsibilities across all organisational levels must revolve around data. Every department should cultivate a certain mindset and curiosity to find out what knowledge and potential lies in data.

There are four topics that a company should focus on if it wants to become ‘data-driven’ or ‘data-minded’:

  • 1. Data leadership
  • 2. Data competence
  • 3. Data access
  • 4. Data communication

Let us take a look at what this means for the individual topics in more detail:

Data leadership

It is not enough for management to proclaim data to be a resource in the company but ultimately not follow up by taking action. In addition to data awareness, initiatives need to be launched that anchor data as a strategic resource in terms of process design, goal setting, responsibilities and roles in the company. Management and supervisors across all levels need to act as role models for a data culture that demonstrates they use data as a basis for business management and decision-making.

Data competence

Companies often believe that handling or using data requires in-depth technical knowledge. This may also be true in some cases. But being able to read and analyse data, work with it and communicate the insights it brings should be a skill that every employee in the company has naturally. A company should therefore train its employees in a wide range of skills and offer a training and education concept for data and analytics. In addition, it is imperative that the tools and technologies a company uses are not only limited to tech-savvy employees – other employees also need to be able to use them so they can answer data-driven questions. After all, as we all agree, unearthing a treasure trove of data requires technical and specialist knowledge.

Data access

We hear time and again in our discussions with customers that they view data access as a major challenge. And they do not only mean this from a technical point of view to enable or facilitate employees’ access to data. They mean this first and foremost in terms of organisational regulations. More specifically, who has permission to view the data and how may the data be used? There are two approaches to this: need-to-know and right-to-know. The traditional need-to-know approach only gives employees access to the data that they explicitly need for their (day-to-day) activities, while the right-to-know approach tries to focus on democratising data. First and foremost, all data (with the exception of particularly sensitive data, of course) should be made accessible to employees. This will give creative and innovative employees the opportunity to leverage data potentials as input factors so they can devise clever and ambitious solutions.

Data communication

Communication is a critical success factor in a transformation in order to strengthen acceptance among employees and to include them as an important part of this journey. A company has a number of options available to it for preparing the topic of data for its employees. One point could be to talk about success stories involving data-driven use cases. What added value do these use cases have for the department or the company? What could it learn? Are there best practices that can be derived for further and new use cases and projects? Use cases that have failed should also be discussed in order to allay fears and stop expectations from being too high. Another idea would be to establish the role of the data champion in the company. Data champions are central contacts from the IT department or specialist departments who have distinctive skills in the area of data. They provide assistance to interested employees (for example, with regard to training, use case ideation, tools or technologies), alleviate fears and serve as an accelerator to drive the topic of data in the organisation and create a data culture.

These four topics should be seen as the starting points for establishing a data-driven mindset in the company. There is no checklist or anything like that the company can work through that suddenly means they have become data-minded overnight. This is because ultimately, data mindedness or a data-driven company is not a state, but a conscious decision and the demand on the organisation to keep developing every day and not to lose its focus on the data.

Visit our website to find out how we can help you process data in the right way so that you can draw the insights from it that you need to make the right decisions.

You will find more exciting topics from the adesso world in our latest blog posts.

Picture Louisa Burakowski

Author Louisa Burakowski

Louisa Burakowski is a data and analytics consultant with a focus on business engineering. She enjoys keeping up with current trends in data and analytics as well as innovation management.

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