This is part two of a two-part series. Read part one here.
COVID-19 accelerated many trends and changed how organizations operate. For the foreseeable future, many will work remotely; as a result, the workforce may be scattered across regions. Businesses can build data and analytics communities to engage and unify the workforce.
Data communities—networks of engaged data users within an organization—are vital to building data cultures. Creating a data immersive environment encourages data literacy and fuels excitement around data and analytics. More importantly, data communities bring people together from all levels of the organization to share knowledge, ideas, and accomplishments. For example, beginners work alongside experts who not only know how to analyze data but are passionate about it. As experts share their data knowledge and enthusiasm, it builds confidence, camaraderie, morale and reinforces the foundations of data cultures.
One of the main benefits of data communities is they do not require large in-person events. Thus, they are well suited for remote collaboration and virtual connection. Data communities can be as simple as a message forum or an internal chat environment, like Slack or Microsoft Teams. They offer a platform where members can share advice or insights to help each other solve challenging problems. Most importantly, data communities act as a central repository, where employees can go to find resources for help and guidance.
Organizations that already have data communities have faster communication channels and access to the resources required to leverage data. Consequently, they are beneficiaries of increased agility and adaptability in changing business environments. For those that do not have the communities in place, there are ways to promote their development.
Create a competitive advantage with a data culture and unified focus on business needs
In part 1, we talked about building data cultures, and we re-emphasize it here because they are very important! Giving all members of an organization access to data and building data communities generate excitement and widespread data adoption. This, in turn, builds a data-driven culture. However, data is meaningless without a purpose; therefore, organizations must also provide a strategic directive for the data. This helps people understand why they are using it and how to generate value from it.
During challenging business cycles, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty was, and continues to be high. Therefore, timely analysis can be all the difference between surviving and thriving. Actionable insights generated from real-time analytics, are not only a necessity for agility but can also create a competitive advantage. As a result, it is vital that employees are supported with the right tools and opportunities to become data literate.
Data leaders set the tone
Data cultures and communities require buy-in from the top because leaders set the tone for the rest of the organization. However, executive leaders must do more than just promote data communities and encourage data literacy. They need to be visible role models and sponsor participation at all levels and across the organization. In fact, the International Data Corporation (IDC), found that businesses with strong data cultures have senior leaders who actively use data analytics.
These executive leaders set the tone as data champions and inject enthusiasm across the organization. To promote a data culture, leaders must connect with other data champions who can share this energy across their business. It is very likely data champions already exist within your organization. They are the people who advocate for more opportunities to explore, understand, communicate and leverage data. It is important to find, empower, and collaborate with data champions in building your organization’s data culture and community.
Treat data communities like a strategic investment
Data communities can foster data engagement, but they will not be impactful without proper support and foundations. Therefore, organizations should treat data communities as a strategic investment.
Many organizations will likely already have a small scale, informal data community, where people discuss data internally through a peer-driven messaging channel. This is a good starting point that can be transformed into a centralized resource hub where anyone can connect from anywhere, communicate and share a variety of resources, and participate in learning objectives.
Businesses should find a volunteer or assign a dedicated leader to maintain and grow the data community. Making the community a strategic initiative encourages employees to spend time to engage in it, which may lead to unforeseen benefits for the organization. For example, one of Google’s strategic initiatives is to encourage its employees to devote 20% of their time to side projects; this led to incredible innovations like Gmail and Google Maps.
Data cultures are never complete
In our last two blog posts, we talked about data cultures and ways to build it. Every modern organization will, at the minimum, attempt to have some sort of data culture, as it increasingly becomes a necessity in the new data-centric world.
Data cultures can transform an organization’s decision-making but fostering it requires time, investment and organizational commitment. From reading our blog posts, you can understand how building data cultures is much more complex than it seems. Simply implementing a data strategy and financially investing in industry-leading technology are not enough to make an organization data-driven.
Data cultures require a change in mindset – for both the individual and for the organization – which can yield immediate improvements without a very large price tag. This shift in mindset will unlock the potential for businesses to see and understand their data. Thus, they can generate actionable insights that not only ensure survival in challenging business environments, but also help build competitive advantages to thrive and discover blue oceans.
Lastly, the construction of a data culture never stops. Data culture expands and requires constant maintenance, just like data itself. As new innovations and discoveries are made, more knowledge and processes will be improved upon and passed on over time. While building data cultures is a long and arduous process, its benefits compound exponentially as the commitment to data grows.
Trust Onware to help build data literacy and your data community
Our previous post talked about Tableau Blue Print. We believe this Blue Print is a good guide for building data cultures and applies to other organizations not using Tableau. Analytical reports from McKinsey, IDC, and other publications also indicate many successful data-driven organizations share similar characteristics.
There are many resources available that can help you successfully implement data cultures in your organization. However, at Onware, we understand that every organization is different. Therefore, we provide custom built solutions tailored to your organization. Don’t wait for another global crisis to increase your sense of urgency around data-driven decision-making. Let us help you create actionable insights backed by data analytics.
At Onware, we have over 20 years of experience working with data – especially with architects, construction owners, general contractors, engineers, government entities, and service providers – across North America. We believe strongly in data cultures – so we practice what we preach!
To create a work environment conducive to data literacy, we provide our entire team with the best industry platforms for working with data. We make extensive use of tools such as Microsoft Teams and shared OneNote notebooks to collaborate internally, as well as with our clients.
Onware is an end-to-end solutions provider: from helping you connect to your data; to building actionable insights with Tableau or Power BI; to training and educating your workforce to work with data – partner with us and let us help build your data culture together.