Data driven decision making: Everybody wants it, here are the reasons behind why few get it

Emir Can, Machine Learning Engineer

In today’s business world, digitization is seen as the key to success. And with digitization comes data & technology. That’s why businesses that want to become data-driven invest heavily in data infrastructure technology. Unfortunately, technology alone can’t make an organization data-driven overnight. It is just an enabler, not the solution to all your problems. At Portera, we believe data transformation relies as much on culture as it does on people, processes and data technology.

Companies continue to invest in data transformation, building data lakes, integration layers, analytics suites, and dynamic dashboards. NVP’s Big Data and AI Executive Survey 2021, which canvassed 85 Fortune 1,000 companies, reveals that virtually all of these companies are investing in data capabilities. Sixty-five percent have appointed a Chief Data Officer (CDO) and 96% report measurable business outcomes.

Addressing the High Cost of Poor-Quality Data

Despite all these efforts, the cost of poor-quality data remains high. According to Gartner, at least $15 million is lost each year on time wasted trying to improve data quality and on extracting inaccurate information.

Interestingly, those tasked with delivering results don’t identify technology as the primary cause of the issue (just 8% thought this was the case), instead people, processes, and culture come out as the main causes, in most people’s (92%) opinion.

Unlocking the Potential of Data Transformation

So there you have it: technology is no longer the main roadblock to a company becoming data-driven; people, processes, and culture are. And although 96% of companies claim they are already seeing the benefits of data transformation, only one in four can rightfully claim to run a data-driven organization.

The full value of data transformation hasn’t been realized yet, mainly due to a lack of focus.

Only one in three companies has successfully defined and established the role of the Chief Data Officer. And even among those, only half of the Chief Data Officers actually have primary responsibility for data within their companies.

Aligning Technology Transformation with Cultural Change

As you know, software eats the world. But then again, culture eats technology. In my opinion there’s no sense in simply investing in tools alone unless the organization is ready to adapt to the necessary change. So the sponsors who are all set on making the data-driven organization a reality — the CDO, CMO, or CTO — should understand that the change can only succeed if the technology transformation is coupled with cultural transformation.

Driving Business Outcomes through Technology Integration

At Portera, we put our focus on the desired business outcome, and co-define the solution with our customers. And the solution always consists of People, Process, Platform. Being technology agnostic, we are able guide our customers through the change process. Currently, we are developing several Data Center of Excellence set-ups within blue-chip CPG businesses. Obviously, data is the core of the project. So the first priority is always to ask the right questions because ultimately, the wrong questions will lead to the wrong answers.

You have to have a clear view of what you want to know and stick ruthlessly to measuring the value or business outcomes that come with it. To keep the right focus, we organize and align cross-functional stakeholders on the key drivers of value.

Transform People and Culture

 At the same time, the transformation of people and culture is at the heart of our thinking. Business teams are often reluctant to change their ways of working and long-standing habits. That’s why I can’t stress enough the importance of change management, including reshaping processes and reskilling and training team members in their new data roles.

It’s a common mistake to underestimate the effort needed to achieve the desired, durable transformation of people and processes. Only when your objectives are clear and you have the right teams in place is it time to start working on technology.

Implement The Right Technology

At Portera, we set up a complete plan for a data lake, effective data integrations, and data ingestion and management, all linked to business outcomes. Using an agile implementation approach, we move fast, focusing on small steps with tangible outcomes. The key to success here is to work to ambitious but realistic deadlines. This helps to make progress easily visible, which in turn reinforces the sustainability of the change in teams and culture.