Jul 15th, 2013
One of the most significant overarching trends to occur among businesses in recent years has been the the pursuit of data-driven cultures. Of course, information has always been critical for organizations of all kinds. However, the rise of big data and the proliferation of analytics solutions have made it possible for employees in virtually every field to potentially implement better-informed strategies.
And business leaders in particular are taking note. In a recent interview with The New York Times, writer and entrepreneur Alistair Croll explained that "[i]n the past, a leader was someone who could get you to do stuff in the absence of information. Now it's the person who can ask the best question about what's going on, and find an answer."
Yet just because this potential exists does not mean that firms can easily achieve the goal of developing a data-driven culture. To reach this objective, businesses must follow a number of critical guidelines.
Here are three keys to developing a data-driven culture.
1. Data availability
This may seem straightforward, but it is actually one of the more challenging aspects of developing a data-driven culture. Firms need to develop methods not only for ensuring that all relevant employees have access to critical data, but also ensure that information remains secure at all times.
The reason why this is such a challenge is because of the very nature of big data, which lies at the heart of virtually all of these initiatives. Big data is both unstructured and much more expensive than traditional data sets. As a result, legacy data migration solutions simply cannot handle the big data needs of many companies. Delays and other inefficiencies will develop, undermining the value of the data itself and preventing a firm from becoming truly data-driven.
Furthermore, these legacy solutions are not able to offer sufficient security to big data sets as they are being sent and received by personnel within the company. Because big data is typically collected and created from a wide range of sources, thereby necessitating the regular distribution of big data sets.
That is why one of the most critical components of any data-driven business culture is secure file transfer solutions that have been specifically designed to share big data throughout the organization with speed and reliability without compromising security. Without such tools in place, workers will not have access to the information they need to effectively leverage data-driven software resources.
2. Data leveraging
Assuming that big data and other information resources are available to employees, these workers will also require the actual means of leveraging the company's information resources. These include business intelligence (BI) solutions, customer relationship management (CRM) tools and more.
To see the best possible results from these solutions, it is critical for the business to choose tools that are high-quality and, crucially, easy to use. A data-driven culture depends on universal participation among employees, and this will only happen if workers view such tools as useful resources, not burdens. A tool that is difficult or time-consuming to utilize will likely undermine adoption and usage rates, thereby leading employees to rely less on data and more on guesswork.
Once the right data availability and leveraging tools are in place, it is imperative for firms to take the additional step of providing training for relevant personnel. Too often, businesses invest in technological solutions such as these, provide brief instructions for workers and then assume the matter has been settled. Without more thorough training, though, employees will likely fail to maximize these resources, and a data-driven culture will never truly take root.