Fostering a Data Culture: The Power of the C-Suite

When data-driven businesses are 3x more likely to report experiencing significant improvements in decision-making, why aren’t more c-suite professionals taking the charge in developing their own data culture? 

C-suite play an integral role in an organisation developing a data culture. Data-driven decision-making has to be performed at top-level discussions for the benefits of data to be felt around the business. 

C-suite can either help or hinder a workforce’s journey towards improving data literacy; they’ll be the greatest roadblock or a forceful catalyst. They have the opportunity to add a competitive edge to the business by inciting a data transformation sooner than the rest of the industry. And when it’s been proven that data-driven businesses have 4% higher productivity and 6% higher profits, it’s time for the c-suite to take action. 

Understanding the power the c-suite have in developing a data culture is your first step towards achieving one. 

A gatekeeper for sign off

Carrying out significant company changes requires approval from at least one member of the c-suite. Whether it’s implementing new data tools or organising company-wide data training, you won’t be able to apply real change to the business without c-suite approval. 

There may be rumblings of individual teams wanting to become more data-driven but this will only produce silos in the business; to achieve a data culture all departments of your business must be on the journey towards data-driven decision-making together.    

A catalyst for senior leadership buy-in

The majority of your senior leaders will only begin to have buy-in once their superiors have too. A major cause for change will be your senior leaders understanding the benefits of a data culture, wanting to achieve it and then leading their teams to get there. After all, 93% say that it’s people and process – and not technology – that are the biggest obstacles in their businesses adoption of big data/AI. 

Senior leaders need the green light from their boss in order to allow their team to spend time away from their business as usual work to improve their data skills. Once employees’ confidence in data has grown there may be opportunities to improve processes and systems that could be roadblocks in achieving a data culture, but they will need the support from senior leaders to do so.

Growing employees confidence

The c-suite’s belief in building a data culture will instil confidence in the rest of the workforce. However, this confidence will only grow once employees see their c-suite becoming data-driven themselves.

Shouting about improving organisational data literacy but then taking no steps towards improving their own will eradicate any meaning of the message they’re trying to spread. It will be a real ‘wow’ moment at the next all-hands meeting when employees see their CEO using data visualisation tools like Tableau in their presentation. 

Embodying transparency

A key aspect of a data culture is the democratization of data. Organisation-wide data-driven decision-making can only occur when the data that employees need is in their hands. Breaking down silos starts at the c-suite. 

It’s not just about showing stats at an all-hands meeting; while it’s the quickest way to be transparent with the entire company it can’t be the only occasion. It will start to look like it’s only for show. Regularly being transparent with your senior leaders will then support them to do the same with their own teams, from there a message of transparency truly gets implemented. 

“As more and more people digitize all that they do, it all comes down to having transparency and access to that data in a way that’s going to deliver value. Senior leaders need to promote transparency on every level. Whether it’s the budget, what you’re spending your time on, or your project inventory, transparency is paramount.”

– Rob Casper, JPMorgan Chase

It’s time to take action

Your Chief Technology/Data Officer shouldn’t be the only member of the c-suite working towards a data culture. The benefits are clear and in the era of data, building a data culture is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but an imperative. In the United States, it’s even been proven to pay, with analytics paying back $13.01 for every $1 spent.

When the c-suite are unanimously leading the change for data transformation in the business, it speeds up the process of achieving a data culture. Kick-start your journey by taking these five steps towards building a data-driven 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 the building of a data culture.

Stephanie Khan

Posted November 18, 2019