Three Steps Leaders Can Take To Create A Culture Of Data Sharing

Merav Yuravlivker is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Data Society.

Leaders today are increasingly recognizing the importance of leveraging data for their organizations, but there’s a gap between that realization and truly instilling a data culture. According to the results of the latest Gartner Chief Data Officer Survey, “data and analytics leaders who share data externally generate three times more measurable economic benefit than those who do not.”

However, although data sharing can lead to immense growth, the journey is often fraught with missteps. To start, between 60% and 73% of data is never even analyzed. In addition, 74% of staff surveyed reported feeling overwhelmed when working with data, resulting in $100 billion in lost productivity every year.

So, for leaders who may find themselves not taking full advantage of the data at their fingertips, where should they begin in trying to transform an organization’s culture to prioritize data literacy and data sharing? To get the journey started, here are three steps leaders can implement to help create a culture of data sharing that their team members will embrace.

1. Establish a solid data infrastructure.

The first step is ensuring that an organization has a solid data infrastructure in place. This can help streamline the accessibility of data within a company and set reasonable expectations among employees for data handling.

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Although investing in data tools is certainly an essential part of this step, data infrastructure goes far beyond that. Often, companies invest millions of dollars on licensing technologies when only a handful of employees use the tools consistently and effectively. In fact, less than 11% of companies today are productively utilizing the data they already have because they lack a solid foundation for data infrastructure.

Strengthening this foundation starts with asking the right questions and looking critically at an organization’s current practices to establish a baseline. Key questions to ask include:

• Is data collected in a timely and clean way?

• Is the data stored securely with a backup?

• Can staff access data easily and in a timely manner?

Understanding what data is accessible, who uses it and how they’re using it can highlight existing holes and room for improved infrastructure. This paves the way to fortifying the groundwork and closing existing gaps, leading to better investments in new training and technologies.

2. Champion data literacy.

Another important factor in creating a data-sharing culture is strong data literacy across an enterprise, empowering employees to use data to their advantage confidently. Organizations with higher data literacy levels produce 3% to 5% more market capitalization, generating about $500 million in enterprise value.

Successful data sharing can only occur when the entire company is committed to the process, not just individual departments. Leadership must assert itself as the key driver of this movement and lead by example. Start by identifying data literacy champions and providing them with the resources and support they need to implement change throughout the organization. These champions should be role models who promote data-driven decision-making in others throughout the company. Leadership must also ensure employees have a clear understanding of relevant data practices and standards that are in place.

Once employees understand how data literacy can benefit them and their specific departments, they’ll be more likely to fully embrace the process. An organization that integrates data literacy on all levels garners a more unified organization and promotes a company culture in which data sharing across departments is desired and rapidly adopted.

3. Instill long-term, data-driven thinking and decision-making.

Achieving a robust data-sharing culture requires a continuous commitment and trial-and-error effort. Leaders must tend to this process and position it as a long-term effort so that employees understand the longevity of data sharing at their organization.

An important part of this is building learning programs and pathways as opposed to one-time sessions. Although individual training and initiatives are significant on their own, their value must be recognized as an ongoing endeavor to grow as a data-forward company. Give staff time and space to be innovative, learn from mistakes, reflect on areas in which improvement can be made and celebrate successful analytics projects.

Ultimately, building a successful data-sharing culture starts with establishing a solid foundation of data infrastructure, empowering staff to explore new ideas and instilling an environment in which employees are encouraged to identify and act on insights from data. Often, frustrations arise when staff feel insecure and overwhelmed by data and are unclear of their role in harnessing data at their organization. Remember, cultivating a robust data-sharing culture takes time, but it’s a critical investment for long-term growth and is necessary for companies to remain competitive and agile.


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