It was not long ago that companies and organizations had to rely on their “gut instincts” and often unreliable data to make decisions big and small.
Now, with the advancement of applications such as big data and business intelligence, companies can incorporate a data-driven culture, optimizing their success in multiple areas. But what does it really mean to be “data-driven?” Let’s examine.
Defining a data-driven culture
A data-driven culture is an operating environment that seeks to leverage data whenever and wherever possible to enhance business efficiency and effectiveness. According to The Business Journal, companies that adopt data-driven marketing are six-times more likely to be profitable year-over-year.
However, transforming a company’s culture does not happen overnight, and it requires an investment of time and effort by both the company and its clients. Here are five tips on how you can create a more data-driven culture for your business or organization.
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1. Strengthen your team’s skillset
In order to create a more data-driven culture, your team needs to be up to date on all things data. Even if your company is highly data-based, investing in the time to train employees with various resources will not only benefit your company’s success in the long-run, but also expand your team’s knowledge on the subject. Such training is a great way to start integrating data into your company’s environment.
That being said, it is always best to lead by example, and learn new things with your employees. When a team sees that their leader is putting in a strong effort to participate in data skills training, it sends a powerful message that such skills will be critical to their success. The President of Doctor’s Center Hospital in Manatí, Puerto Rico, does just that. Each morning, Dr. Carlos Blanco wakes up and looks at his Diver dashboard. How is the census at each of the health system’s four hospitals? How is the ER volume? Has anything changed significantly from the previous day? Once he gathers such data, he starts asking questions of his employees, which is a great motivator for everyone in the organization to also understand what the numbers mean and what decisions can be made based on them.
2. Embrace a “data mindset”
Your team may already think they know the importance of data, but making them believe in it can be another obstacle. If your employees don’t believe in a data-driven culture, then you can’t expect your customers to either. Data-driven companies define processes that support key performance indicators fundamental to their business, and they communicate those metrics to staff. Allowing your employees to be a part of both the “big wins” and the data-related mistakes as well is an important part of creating a data-driven culture. These key factors of becoming more data-driven apply to team leaders as well. For example, both the CEO and the CIO at Allied Beverage embrace and value analytics, and have advocated for its continued expansion in all areas of the enterprise. Observing leaders using data on a regular basis will inspire other managers and employees to follow their example.
3. Trust data, but respect privacy
According to Forbes, data-driven organizations are 56% more likely than others to have formal data governance policies. While it is important for you and your team to trust the data you work with, customers rely on your organization because they believe that you are the best fit to help lead them down a successful path. It’s your job to instill the value of privacy and ethics in all departments. With all of the benefits technology has brought to society in the past few decades, it may be easy to forget that privacy and security have also become hot topics, so laying out a clear code of ethics is extremely important. Remember that part of creating a successful data-driven culture is ensuring that your employees understand the vital role they play in securing customer’s security.
4. Make data accessible and transparent
Assuring customers that they can trust your company is one thing, but making sure that you gain your employees’ trust is just as important, especially when adopting a data-driven culture. Communication is key; if you want your team to embrace a “data mindset” as discussed earlier, allow team members to access your company’s data to some extent, and be open to questions, suggestions, and contributions. Nothing will make your employees turn away from developing a data-driven culture more than their company emphasizing the value of transparency to their customers, but not to their own team.
However, keep in mind that company transparency needs to be balanced. Having full transparency for the sole purpose of letting everybody know that your company is trustworthy is not useful. What are the business goals that transparency will help achieve? What insights are you really trying to acquire, and how will you use them to improve the business? Answering these questions can help your company implement the appropriate amount of transparency.
5. Connect data with your company’s decision-making
Lastly, when you’re planning to create a more data-driven culture, it’s important to incorporate data into all decisions your company makes.
For example, drug costs at Western Maryland Health System’s (WMHS) were skyrocketing, especially the price of an IV form of acetaminophen (painkiller) in particular. WMHS was spending an unsustainable $250,000 a year on this drug, and needed to find a way to reduce that spending. Surender Kanaparthi, who works in the WMHS’s pharmacy, suspected that the oral version of acetaminophen would work just as well as the IV version, but he needed data to prove it. With the help of WMHS’s business intelligence analyst, Colby Lutz, they looked at various surgical procedures, patient lengths of stay, and number of opiates given. They found that there was no noticeable difference in patient outcomes, and as a result WMHS shifted much of its spending to oral acetaminophen, saving the hospital nearly $200,000 per year.
Take the time to determine how specific data will affect each possible outcome, and communicate how data-driven decision-making will help both your team and your customers. After all, according to CIO, “Data without decisions is like burying your money in the ground.”
Becoming data-driven is now the main cornerstone of many different company cultures. While any big change does take adjustment and dedication, introducing a more data-driven culture is something that can ultimately leave a positive impact on your company and help it to move towards the top in today’s competitive market.
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