Developing a Data Culture: 3 Mistakes to Avoid

It is proven that data-driven organisations acquire 23x more customers, yet businesses are scrambling to create a data focus in their business. Here we examine the 3 key mistakes you could be making.

Any business that wants to survive in the next ten years has no option but to become data-driven. Building a  data culture ensures you achieve this by putting data at the heart of every business decision made, throughout all levels of your organisation. 

Data leads to better decisions made faster. You improve efficiency and avoid wasting resources on ideas that have come from guesswork. A focus on data will also increase your sales and improve your customer experience by implementing evidence-based changes to your product or service. 

What stops a data culture emerging?

The idea of a data culture isn’t new; big data has become the new digital transformation. In NewVantage’s 2019 survey, the pace and urgency of data investment was a top concern for executives. However, few businesses have achieved becoming data-driven. So what’s stopping them? 

Lack of data literacy

Data skills are becoming more valuable than degrees. 64% of employers are looking for candidates that demonstrate their data skills vs only 21% that are looking for a degree. 

Understanding the language of data cannot be restricted to your data teams. All employees to be able to communicate with technical staff in order to work more efficiently. This doesn’t mean they are expected to learn programme languages, but rather the jargon and lexicon that surrounds data and analytics. 

Having company-wide data literacy will free up your analysts from basic reporting and help your employees to have more control over the data available to them. For more complicated data work, better data literacy will help them to ask the data team the right questions. 

No senior sponsorship

Your c-suite need to spearhead the movement towards becoming more data-driven. They will be the catalyst for change, allowing you to get access to better tools and training quickly through their sponsorship. Once they become data-driven themselves, they’ll become great case studies in the business. 

In order for your c-suite to undergo meaningful data training that’s relevant to their role, you need to tailor it to their needs. Executives thrive from face-to-face intensive training that can be squeezed into one day. Having your senior leaders be your data champions will play a huge part in the business following suit. 

“You can talk about being CEO-mandated. It only goes so far. Our CEO [Steve Burke] is very engaged. He’s willing to listen and share feedback. We try to be thoughtful of his time and not waste it. A CEO, especially for a company of size, is thinking about billion-dollar decisions. He’s thinking big, as you would expect. So we try to focus on the larger things.”

– Cameron Davies, Head of Corporate Decision Sciences at NBCU

Bring data to life with visualisation tools

Providing intuitive, user-friendly data visualisation tools is one of the first steps you should take to get your business excited about using data. Showcase that data isn’t about drab Excel spreadsheets and invest in software that sparks curiosity and does the boring, manual work for you.

Tools like Tableau make it easy for users to start getting comfortable with data. Avoid overwhelming them with in-depth training on how to use all the intricate parts of the software, start by providing them with the basic training on how to use it. Tailor the training sessions for each department to show them how to get the information that’s relevant to them.

Take your next steps towards achieving a data culture

A true data culture can’t happen overnight. It takes time and money to develop a workforce that makes data-driven decisions every day. However, modern businesses have no choice; data is an asset and your competitors are using it as such – it’s what’s making them competitive. 

Invest in your employees’ data skills, build a c-suite of data champions and provide your staff with excellent data resources and you’ll be well on your way to achieving a data culture. 


With over 20 years of experience working in the learning industry, AVADO are one of the largest distance providers in the UK. In partnership with Tableau, we’ve built a Data Academy that helps businesses thrive in the data era through building a data culture. 

Stephanie Khan

Posted October 21, 2019