Modernization and data-driven culture – Part 1


Modernization is a term used to describe the necessary evolution of information technologies that organizations rely on to remain competitive in today’s constantly changing business world. New technologies – many designed to better leverage big data – challenge existing data infrastructures and business models. This forces enterprises to modernize their approach to data management and analytics.

business people discussing data-driven organizationsThe oft-cited secret behind modernization success is a data-driven culture. But nowadays, asking if your organization is data-driven is analogous to asking if your house has indoor plumbing. Since answering no would cause people to question how you do your business, so to speak, everyone claims their organization is data-driven.

In this two-part blog series, I'll examine the characteristics of two types of data-driven cultures I've most often encountered in my consultation work.

Data-justified decision making

Whether an organization has a data-driven culture is often revealed by how data-driven its decision making is. While all organizations involve data in making their decisions, many corporate cultures are less data-driven and more data-justified. In other words, data is used to justify a decision after it was made by other means (e.g., the not-so-humble opinion of executive management or the zeitgeist of the status quo).

This is common because whether or not we want to admit it (especially to others), our minds are often already made up before we look at data. And big data makes a very good yes-man, amplifying our natural tendency to only search out data that supports our viewpoints (i.e., confirmation bias). With this approach, we find further evidence for what we already believe, or to support the decision we already wanted to make.

Organizations prone to data-justified decision making are also easily led astray by questionable correlations and dubious connections that commonly occur during analytics. Especially when such findings support the story we want data to tell us.

Signs your organization may have this type of data-driven culture include:

  • Critical business decisions are often based on a single data source or a single analytical result.
  • Potential new data sources or analytical results are routinely dismissed because “the current process for making this decision works.”
  • Decision makers can't identify the data a decision was based on, and/or no mechanism is in place to capture and analyze data about a decision’s outcome.
  • There is limited use of new technologies for data management (e.g., Hadoop) and analytics (e.g., graph).
  • There is limited inclusion of new types of data sources (e.g., social media, events, IoT, clickstream) in analytics and decision-making processes.

How modern and data-driven is your organization?

Please post a comment below to share your perspective and experience about how modernization is impacting your organization’s data management and analytics, as well as how data-driven your corporate culture really is.

Get some tips for data integration modernization from TDWI.


About Author

Jim Harris

Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality (OCDQ)

Jim Harris is a recognized data quality thought leader with 25 years of enterprise data management industry experience. Jim is an independent consultant, speaker, and freelance writer. Jim is the Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality, an independent blog offering a vendor-neutral perspective on data quality and its related disciplines, including data governance, master data management, and business intelligence.

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