What does it mean to be data-driven?

Creating a data-driven culture is about replacing gut feeling with decisions based on data-derived facts. Businesses that are adapting and tapping into data as a resource are edging out their competitors. With the benefits of data-driven decision-making becoming more apparent, the question is, “What exactly is a data-driven culture and how do we get there?”

What is a positive data-driven culture?

An organisation that fosters an appreciation for data among all its employees and uses data to improve all decision-making can be said to have developed a culture that is data driven. Those who wish to become more data driven can only flourish if there is all-round collaboration that pushes data to the centre of all decision-making processes in all departments, as opposed to isolated data usage.
To create this type of paradigm shift, behavioural change is required, which can be achieved by empowering employees through providing access to quality data as well as improving overall data literacy. Giving everyone access to quality data is a big step towards a data-driven culture; however, universal access to data is only an asset when everyone in an organisation knows how to extract useful insights from it and is encouraged to do so. After all, interpreted data becomes knowledge, and we know all too well, knowledge is power.

How can you benefit from a data-driven culture?

By centralising data access and encouraging data-driven behaviour at all levels, the guesswork of decision-making is eliminated. Apart from becoming more focused and goal-oriented in their overall strategy, organisations can expect to experience the benefits of data-driven decision-making in the following ways:

Better collaboration

In a data-driven company culture, there is easy access to and widespread interaction with data. This saves time and encourages collaboration by sharing reports and information across the organisation. Instead of one department acting as the gatekeeper of data, cross-team data collaboration improves transparency and encourages data democratisation, allowing more people into the decision-making process.

Reduced costs

By embracing data, it’s easy for different departments to find inefficiencies and cut costs. It’s possible to accurately track spending and results through data analytics, eliminating the need for arbitrary cost-cutting measures that can negatively impact team morale. With marketing, for example, you are able to accurately analyse what kind of spending gets the best results and shift your targeting for better optimisation.

Better products and services

A data-driven culture leads to data-driven marketing. When you are able to pinpoint customer preferences, you can tap into your customers’ expectations and provide a better service or product to them. A great example of this is how entertainment platforms like iTunes, Spotify, and Netflix use data to cater to their customers’ preferences by providing them with content that they are likely to be interested in based on their previous consumption history.

New business opportunities

Using data to analyse trends bolsters innovation, as businesses are able to respond to market changes rapidly and create innovative products and services to meet consumer demands. With data analytics informing your decisions, you’ll be able to predict future trends and maintain a competitive edge as you tap into new revenue streams by tailoring your products and services to the needs of your customer base.


Companies are able to maximise their revenue growth by effectively using data-based insights to identify internal problems and opportunities. Consider an underachieving sales team: In order to get them back on track and grow sales, a data-driven company will dig into the data to identify problems. It will use this information to develop sales and marketing strategies aimed at improving performance, increase efficiency, and ultimately boost revenue.

What is stopping you from being a data-driven organisation?

Although there is no shortage of usable data in most organisations, there is still a vast difference between companies who blindly collect data and those that successfully convert the information into insights and competitive advantage. Why is that?

How do you become a successful data-driven company?

At the end of the day culture is about people. The success of a data-driven culture stems from behavioural change, and for most organisations, the way to reach their full potential as a data-driven culture means starting from the very top:

Lead by example

In order to effect organisation-wide behavioural change, top-level managers need to demonstrate that decision-making must be anchored with data. The intention here is to inspire others to copy your behaviour and to align management on habitual practices and behaviours that show the benefit of data-derived decision-making in action.

Don't work in silos

To generate a culture of data curiosity, cross-team collaboration is key. Boundaries need to be porous in order to find ways to fuse specialised knowledge with technical know-how through multi-department collaboration. By encouraging experimentation with data and ideas, this creates a data-driven culture where the power of harnessing insights is widely understood and celebrated.

Aim for quick wins

Incremental change is a powerful tool when attempting to shift behaviour for the long term. By starting small at first, pressure is low and goals seem achievable. Once small wins start to add up along the way, it becomes easier to build on this gradual progression. This creates a possibility for more complex involvement by organisations and the people in them, which in turn gives a data-driven culture a chance to develop.

Define your success metrics

To achieve widespread behavioural change, it’s important to know what questions you need answered by data analytics. Carefully define metrics to this end and continuously track the quality of the insights rendered. Knowing what success looks like for your business is key in using data as the vehicle to get there.

Take a people-first approach

Data analytics solutions must always consider the end user, as usefulness and usability are paramount to successful cross-organisational adoption. Unlocking the user’s perspective and determining their preferences and frustrations will help better meet their needs. Put people at the centre to drive data culture and results.

Encourage experimentation

Place an emphasis on deconstructing uncertainty by encouraging experimentation through a commonly held ‘test and learn’ approach. Essentially, data analysis can be used as a tool for reducing uncertainty and making better decisions to improve future outcomes. Experimentation is one of the best ways to do that.

Invest in data literacy

Being data literate means being able to analyse data and use it to make better business decisions. Although hiring data specialists can help spur isolated data-driven decision-making, in a truly data-driven organisation, everyone should be well versed in using it. Investing in training to support data literacy is key in any data-driven organisation.

Incorporate compliance into routines

To succeed in a data-driven world, make sure to build security and compliance into your value streams, with awareness of security and compliance requirements at every step. This is preferable to having gatekeepers that add no value and spend all their time telling other people they are doing things wrong. When security and compliance teams are able to build their capability into the processes that deliver value, a data-driven culture can flourish.

Ready to make some changes?

The team at Dear Watson Consulting has a high-touch approach in guiding successful company culture transformations, empowering enterprises of all shapes and sizes to thrive in a data-driven world. We can help you improve efficiency, drive innovation, and keep you ahead of the curve by streamlining your data reporting and making sure that data is at the forefront of all decision-making. Get in touch to find out how we can transform your business insights with Power BI consulting and training.

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