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Without the right leadership, culture and employees all the talk of a data-driven workplace will remain only that: talk PHOTO: rawpixel.com

As a leader at your company, you likely know very well how much you rely on data to make day-to-day decisions. And you likely have lots of it. But do you know how to use it most effectively?

Being truly data-driven means using data in every facet of your organization, including talent and culture, to reach success. 

Teams that prioritize data analysis and insights for their clients — but don’t understand how some of the very same data connects to their own company culture — can easily find themselves making decisions in isolation.

Let Data Drive Every Decision

If your internal analytics team is the only one seeing and reacting to data, then there is a loss across the organization because that means decision-making is occurring in countless departments without the proper big-picture insights.

That’s why successful companies rely on data to make every decision, whether large or small. They have learned that you must invest in both the data itself and the insights it provides to maximize its true value.

Align Your Culture to Optimize Insights

So establishing a culture in which everyone — including your leadership — understands and appreciates how data brings value to business and marketing initiatives will ensure that your processes and culture are aligned around optimizing insights.

Getting the best value from your data means you must first trust it yourself and then give employees the time and space to understand it. That process starts with company leaders, who should encourage this approach among staff. Decentralizing the decision-making around data, while increasing responsiveness gives teams more meaningful data to work with.

Building a Data-Savvy Workforce

Prioritizing hiring — and supporting the right talent — in a culture that embraces data also brings many benefits to companies. A data-savvy workforce is in high demand. The McKinsey Global Institute reports that by 2018, the US could experience a shortage of up to 190,000 in the number of workers who can analyze data. That means there could be as much as a 60 percent gap between the demand for workers who excel at data analysis and the actual supply of them.

That makes hiring the right workers especially important. When hiring, look for candidates who are comfortable with the idea that they don’t already know it all. Individuals who embrace data are typically open to what it can teach them, while also being open to other inputs such as customer feedback, qualitative research and user testing.

Value the Willingness to ‘Failing Forward’ 

Decisions should also be made based on a holistic view of your organization’s business goals, rather than on number crunching alone. If your company is making decisions based only on numbers, you are discounting the power of your staff’s intuition and disregarding its past experiences with success or failure. Those kinds of qualitative input can be valuable additions to your quantitative analyses.

Of course, even with superior data insights and intuitive employees, mistakes can and will occur. Success can’t be achieved in a vacuum, so establish a culture that allows people to feel comfortable with failing forward, since success ultimately depends on everyone driving toward the same outcome.

4 Strategies for Nurturing Your Data Culture 

Company leaders should prioritize the acquisition and retention of top talent and the establishment of a nurturing culture so that data success will actually be achieved. These strategies will help:

1. Foster Professional Development

Create opportunities for professional development and continuing education that focus on best practices and advances in data and marketing sciences. Establish active and engaging relationships with leading data and marketing sciences organizations, such as the Data and Marketing Association (DMA.)

2. Test Internal Processes

Constantly conduct pressure testing of internal processes and protocols to ensure that each practitioner is aligned with the company’s strategy and execution. This starts with a clear vision, followed by a commitment by your leadership to invest the time and resources necessary to ensure that everyone understands and supports the mission.

3. Stay Up-to-Date

Being innovative often means looking outside your company, rather than simply relying on your own research and development team. Looking to different sources of knowledge can broaden your strategy. Develop relationships with leading educational institutions and professional organizations to stay on top of new and innovative developments. These relationships can also help you attract top talent.

4. Lead From the Front

Leaders must lead by example with behavior that embraces data and reinforces its role and importance inside their organizations. Leading by example inspires confidence in staff which, in turn, leads to staff retention. This type of leadership also ensures that employees follow the path that you have set for them.

Prioritize Talent and Culture

Effective data analysis and usage depends on prioritizing your organization’s talent and company culture. Having the right talent in place and a culture that nurtures and supports that talent are critical to ensuring that your efforts are strategically focused and flawlessly executed to deliver the actionable insights that will maximize your marketing and content efforts.