5 steps to become a data driven organization

May 15, 2019
by Chrissie Koeppen

5 Steps to Become a Data-driven Organization in 2019


Characteristics of a data driven organization

By now, we all understand the value of data – if we can effectively leverage it to help us make better business decisions:

  • we will not only extend our reach to prospective customers
  • we’ll better understand them
  • allowing us to retain our valued customers
  • and thus, be more engaging and profitableas a result.

But often the reality is we just don’t have the time and/or skillset to leverage our data effectively. 

If We All Only Had a Little More Time

Most organizations are swimming in data, drowning under countless industry statistics, website analytics, sales numbers, social media insights, etc… etc.. etc… It’s making my head spin just thinking of all.that.data!

On top of the mountainous amounts of data collected, most of it is silo’d by department and sits unanalyzed, not shared, and not acted upon. Useless.

A recent report from EY suggests that while 81% of organizations think data should be at the heart of what they do, the vast majority are only using analytics sparingly for individual-level issues, if at all. 

If at all. Most of our clients say they just don’t have the time to process all the data they collect, much less analyze it for actionable insights. And sharing it with people who can action it…forget about it.

Which leads us to….

Will the Real Data Scientists Please Stand Up….Please Stand Up


Enter the problem of skillsets and mindsets. While analytics isn’t altogether that difficult -- okay maybe there is a steep learning curve –CrowdFlower data suggests that 83% of you are struggling to find someone with the right data skills. Underlying that is that a great data scientist is kind of a unicorn – someone who can see both the forest and the trees, blending hard data with insights into human behavior to provide and present actionable recommendations that guide the decision-making process. 

Whew…sounds like a lot.

And…further compounding the skillset deficit is often a mindset problem.

While 1 in 5 of you out there consider yourself data savvy, only 15% of organizations say that their organizational culture supports data-driven decision making. 

These issues sound insurmountable, but they aren’t.

Here are 5 steps you can take today to start down the path of becoming a data-based organization:

  1. Correct the organizational mindset

Whether you’re a leader in your organization or not, there are ways you can influence organizational culture to be more open, transparent, trusting, and yes, even data-based. Our blogs on removing barriers to trust and tools to build trust in your organization will get you started with practical ways to do both. Trust is the key to innovation and can open doorways for you to start changing the mindset to see the value in data.

Once you’ve implemented some of the trust-building tools, choose one small project to be your pilot. Use this example to show how data can help your colleagues and staff on a daily basis. Show leadership its value so that you can get a firm commitment of support – this is critical to ongoing success. Underpin this knowledge and understanding with sharing and training and you’ll be quickly on the road to success.

Ensure in your pilot program that data and insights are available to all employees when they might need them and they’re presented in the most visual way possible. More on this below…

  1. Carry out a data audit

Remember all that data we talked about just sitting useless in your organization’s departments? 

You need to get a clear understanding of what data you’re collecting, which tools you’re using, and why. Then start your slash campaign.

Get rid of any unnecessary data and software. If you aren’t using it now, you’ll likely be able to cut through the noise and hone in on what you need, thus saving your organization money and your staff time.

Remember: you want to focus on data that helps you better understand your customers and improve your products/services/presence. Simply reporting on website pageviews or clicks is not going to cut it…you’ll need to be more insightful. 

  1. Align data with organizational strategic objectives

To be more insightful and provide actionable data, you’ll need to ensure your data aligns with your strategy. We like to use measurement models to align our strategic objectives with tactics/actions for which we detail KPIs (key performance indicators). These KPIs are realistic and measurable. We further detail how we will measure them, who will do it, how often, how the information will be reported, how often and to whom, and record baseline data for each. 

This allows us to truly hone in on data that is absolutely necessary. 

This step and step 2 above are usually carried out in conjunction with one another.

  1. Integrate tools

Usually when data is silo’d across the organization, different departments are using a bunch of different tools and software to collect the data.

No longer.

Use your audit and strategy planning exercises to determine which tools you can get rid of and which tools can be extended across the entire organization, rather just living in the one department.

Focus on using tools that help you provide data to the non-data savvy among you…which is almost everyone, remember?

Data visualizations (aka dashboards) can be powerful tools that allow staff to access data when they need it, thereby becoming a key organizational asset that underpins your strategy and deepens customer engagement.

  1. Test, test, test…and then Iterate

One of the great things about data is that you can get some serious real-time insights. This allows you to pivot on a dime – stop doing what’s not working, while you capitalize on what is.

Take your pilot data program and see what’s working and what’s not in terms of:

  • governance 
  • workflow
  • systems
  • common standards, methods and tools
  • data quality
  • data reporting

Change as needed, come up with a plan for continual reassessment, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a data-driven organization!


Listen to this as 2-minute micro podcast: 


Not sure where to get started?

We can help!

We believe in the “teach a man to fish” philosophy, but will happily give you the fish to start out -- we offer analytics and business insights services as well as training courses. Contact us with your specific need and we’ll tailor something right up for you!