A true analytics culture is a relatively rare thing.

Many of the country’s largest and most respected companies aren’t entirely data driven. Yet a typical Fortune 1000 company will garner $65 million in additional net income with just a 10% increase in data accessibility.

So what’s holding up the mass adoption of analytics culture?

The Role of Enterprise Data

Well, beyond issues like security concerns, a shortage of analytical talent and budget constraints, there’s also the added challenge of making data truly central to your business strategy, which can be a considerable undertaking.

But in the long run, companies that do so will ultimately perform better than their peers.

An analytics culture demands that the data that flows into your business daily is managed well and informs your decisions.

And while many successful businesses often already perform data science on their own in some capacity, only half (50.84%) are truly effective at analyzing that data for insights that drive business, according to a recent study from The Economist.

Potential Challenges

There are many reasons for that shortfall, including obvious ones, like a lack of data and the necessary technology to perform highly sophisticated data modeling.

But those aren’t the only reasons. In a company that isn’t already built around big data, only significant organizational changes and a shift in employee behavior will kick-start an analytics culture.

3 Key Areas

Below are three key areas where companies can focus to drive that change and make analytics a priority.

Recognize that analytics dashboards don’t hold all the answers.

Business intelligence and analytics tools have been around for years, and these solutions can be valuable — but only if you can understand what they are telling you.

As I often point out to executives looking to improve their big data strategy, a report that says revenue is dropping among a certain segment of customers doesn’t explain why that drop is happening.

Learning Opportunities

You need real human beings who are able to do a deep-dive into your data to look for answers, an area where even some of the most recognizable companies drop the ball.

Leverage the work of people with real data expertise.

In most cases, it’s not realistic for a company to keep a whole team of data scientists on the payroll.

But a company with a strong analytics culture teaches its employees to leverage the work of the team members who do possess such expertise.

That way, every segment of your business will be data driven — even if not every department has a data scientist. In fact, bringing together specialists in various disciplines — for example, statistics, data mining, and business analysis — to form a strong unit will allow you to perform data science as a team sport, without going on a data scientist hiring spree.

Get your management on board.

Executives are expected to have all the answers, but often those answers are based more on past experience than fact.

There are always going to be people in your organization who believe their gut instinct is all they need to make the right business decisions.

But if you want to develop a culture driven by data, you need your decision makers to know that you have the data to back up (or disprove) what they think they already know. Encourage them to use it.

Keep in mind, you can have all the data in the world and it won’t make an ounce of difference if you’re not using it properly.

If you’ve made all of the changes above — you’ve recognized the need to find out the “why” of the trends on your dashboards, you’ve leveraged data experts to do just that, and your decision makers are ready to use those insights to make real change — then you’re on your way to building an analytics culture.

Title image "kick start" (CC BY 2.0) by frankieleon

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