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Building a data culture

2nd April 2020

Our CEO, Mark Creighton spoke with Digital Bulletin

At Avado, we believe that every business needs a data culture. This means placing data at the heart of all its decisions and ensuring every single person in the business is confident interacting with data.

Leaders inspire through action, basing decisions on data, not intuition. Building a data culture future-proofs an organisation against obsolescence, meaning its systems and staff are always at the cutting-edge of what modern technology can achieve. The best data-cultures bring their staff with them, investing in resources to upskill and re-train so that nobody is left behind. As a result, this investment produces greater diversity of thought and experience, rather than simply hiring new talent to deal with data, and at the same time prevents knowledge from being siloed.

Data culture trends

By its very nature, a data culture will constantly race to catch up with the latest developments - but this is much more easily done continuously, rather than in ten-year leaps, as many organisations are now discovering.

For instance, one of the fastest-growing areas in data is predictive analytics, where organisations store up and use historical data to predict what may happen in the future. Whilst this isn’t fool-proof - as the coronavirus crisis more than effectively illustrates - under normal circumstances, the edge that good predictive analytics can give a business over its competitors is obvious.

The simultaneous development of machine learning is making this process quicker and less labour-intensive - again, an advantage in fast-paced business environments. Taking advantage of platforms that provide you with the capabilities to create interactive charts and tables make it possible for businesses to visualise data at the same time. Businesses would do well to get ahead of these trends, but complaints about people and processes becoming obstacles to development are raised time and again. It’s for this reason that training and upskilling current staff is so vital; there’s no point bringing in someone dynamic and new, only for them to find themselves unable to convince or motivate the rest of the organisation, who at the same time may not understand what they are trying to achieve. A true data culture involves everyone, at all levels of the organisation.

Embed a data culture internally

We see this first-hand both internally at Avado, but also with our clients. Many of our apprenticeship programmes are centred on data, such as the Data Analyst Apprenticeship programme we run with Mindshare. We started working with Mindshare several years ago and have seen 15 apprentices graduate since this time, many of whom are now full-time data analysts.

Because of the nature of apprenticeships, the people that come through them are often from a more diverse background and tend to be much younger than your average data analyst. Most young people have an intuitive understanding of data and its uses as it’s saturated the news cycle for most of their lives, and they interact with it every day. By allowing entry-level staff to have real responsibility over how data is processed and used in an organisation, businesses gain the advantage of novel ways of thinking and approaching data.

Even in less data-centric heavy disciplines, this approach can be useful. Similarly, our apprentices often arrive with a level of understanding and knowledge that enables them to hit the ground running, helping others around them appreciate the value of well-handled data.

Tips for implementing a data culture

When reflecting on your data culture, evaluate if your organisation has the capabilities to deliver key messaging across HR and recruitment, culture, technology and data that align with your business objectives.

Second to this, during the hiring or staff review process, assess if your team can meet the ever-changing demands of the work environment to help you select people right for the job. And lastly, invest in upskilling or re-training staff to give everyone the data capabilities which not only produces diversity in the workplace, but helps to future-proof your organisation.