Driving change is a challenge for most organisations. In a modern enterprise, data is a catalyst for change and innovation. As digital transformations are driving most organisations’ agendas, the need for digital insights has grown. At the same time, CxOs are starting to understand the power of drawing objective insights from customer and employee interactions.
Creating real returns from data insights requires a change in technology, process, and most importantly culture. This was the cornerstone of the discussion at a recent executive roundtable hosted by Informatica entitled “Innovating Your Enterprise Data Strategy: Building a Responsive Framework to Drive Growth and Innovation.”
Attended by some of Sydney’s leading Chief Data Analytics and Compliance Officers, the session provided a platform to discuss how organisations can become data-driven enterprises.
Who Owns the Data?
Most business leaders are aware that data can be used as a strategic asset. However, traditional organisation structures often make it hard to execute a meaningful data strategy.
“We hear a lot about businesses wanting to drive a data-strategy, but a major question to explore is who actually owns the data? Who is the business custodian of the information?” asked Anand Ramamoorthy, Director, APJ Head of Data Governance and Data Security at Informatica.
Attendees agreed this is a significant challenge they face. With the advent of hybrid cloud strategy, SaaS applications, and fragmented reporting, data stewardship is something that has not been fully defined, mainly as information now resides at the edge of business operations.
“Our organisation struggles to define this from a group perspective. Data is owned and managed very well in silos, however we have not been able to identify the individual or business unit that should take ownership,” one attendee noted.
“This ultimately slows down our data lake strategy.”
Once conclusion from the discussion was that stewardship should evolve from the strategy. Once Chief Data Officers define and execute the procedure with C-Suite buy-in, ownership and management should become more evident.
Do Data-Driven Cultures Exist?
“I don’t think many organisations can say that they are truly data-driven. In isolated pockets yes, but the cultural change required is almost generational,” noted one attendee.
The discussion explored how change management is necessary to consider when approaching data innovation. Attendees agreed that transforming an organisation towards a data-driven approach, requires a cultural acceptance. Some of the challenges outlined during the discussion included: overcoming employees natural resistance towards changing from the status quo, a lack of trust in the data itself, as well as a lack of respect for what data insights can deliver.
These traditional roadblocks need to be addressed by the business and change needs to be managed to get the right outcome. Technology cannot transform without the right amount of buy-in. For this reason, Anand noted that it was as much about the people as the technology itself.
“This is really where the people, process and technology ideas all link. It is about managing and advocating for a change in mindset.”
Assessing the Talent Pool
Getting the right people to execute a data-driven strategy is essential to ensuring the business benefits from the resulting insights. As technology has evolved, so too much the skill-sets. The group identified that a big challenge was finding the right executive to understand both the business and technology.
“Data scientists are commanding high salaries in the current market, but the questions I often ask myself are: Do they have the ability to use data and find real solutions? How much do they understand both the data and the business they are working with?” One attendee observed.
This discussion explored this need to identify the right skill sets from both an analytics and data management standpoint. Attendees discussed the risk of having an executive implementing the data-strategy who might not know enough about the business, and thus not understand the insights they should be prioritising. To overcome this, the group identified the need for a “business technologist” executive who could “talk both languages” of business need and technological execution. From a data-strategy and innovation standpoint this is critical to future successes as well as being intrinsic to an organisation’s cultural shift.
From an analytics and governance perspective, it is clear that data is much more than insight. It provides objective assessment of past performance and delivers a blueprint for making the future bright for your business.
The challenge lies in motivating all areas of the business to buy-in to this ideal. Without a cohesive approach, innovation will remain in pockets, and much of the value from data analytics — which will eventually be fed into artificial intelligence mechanisms — will be lost.
It is critical for Chief Data Officers to continue discussing these ideas with business leaders when creating a data-strategy built for the future.
“It is important that as data practitioners we encourage every individual to explore the benefits of data-driven insights. We know how valuable they can be and we must continue to be the advocates for our data strategies,” an attendee concluded.