Why culture is essential for data integration

Data integration alone is not enough. For true success, an organization must also harness data and analytics across the enterprise, integrating it into operations at every level, from the boardroom to the frontline. In short, the organization must become data-driven.

Why would you want to do that? The short answer is for real-time strategic and operational advantage. For example, the data-driven organization can proactively provide continuous, and often real-time, information across the enterprise. These can then support strategy and planning, decision-making and digital engagement with customers, partners and suppliers.

In our research, we have defined four stages of the data maturity journey that lead to becoming data-driven (see graph below). We asked respondents a series of questions – about their organization’s data management, culture and systems, for example, and its performance on a range of key business outcomes – and used their answers to create a scorecard. edge. Of course, correlation is not causation, but the clear correlation we observed between data maturity and business performance is unlikely to be a coincidence.

Of course, becoming data-driven is no easy task. It points to a whole host of issues related to data ownership and culture, for example. These, in turn, relate to people’s roles, powers, responsibilities and obligations, and the importance – and difficulty! – create an environment of trust between your business units and your IT.

It’s a people problem

As our research into data maturity has confirmed, all those old issues of people not sharing or providing data remain present in many organizations. In particular, data ownership is still far too much used as currency or political power.

If you doubt this will affect your organization, there are a few simple questions to ask. First, do people refer to it as “my data” or as “company data”? This is important because part of a data-driven business is to treat data as a shared corporate asset (unless, of course, it is personal protected data, commercially confidential, or other). And in many cases, this will require a change in mindset.

In other words, becoming a data-driven organization may at first glance seem like a process and technology challenge, but like so much else in IT, it’s actually mostly a people problem. .

The CDO Road to Data Success

One of the ways organizations aim to build this data-driven culture is by appointing a data (or digital) leader. There are, however, a number of caveats.

First, the CDO must have authority, which usually means it must be at board level, and it must be able to call on the funding – and perhaps the staff – it will inevitably need. This, in turn, means that the company must engage in all of this at a higher and political level.

It is also important that the CDO be a people person. Someone who is persuasive and good at conflict resolution will do much better and go further than someone who has masters level skills in, say, database building.

They will also need their interpersonal skills to resolve external trust issues. Indeed, your CDO will not only take care of data access and governance within the organization, it must also take into account the entire external value chain. There are a lot of benefits to passing records back and forth across the chain, but how comfortable will you and your business partners be with sharing all that data?

So you need to think carefully before you start trying to integrate your supply chain data as well. After all, your suppliers also have other customers, and your customers have other suppliers. How far do you want your data to go, how will you govern its use, and how much can you expect others to do things your way? Trust is a big consideration here.

But motivation remains the key overall.

No matter how much technology you put in place — and the sheer number of technical options to choose from is a challenge in itself — it won’t get you a data-driven organization. As I mentioned, it will also require a change of mindset and, just as important, there has to be the motivation for it to work.

And that motivation must continue, because the data-driven organization is a living thing that must be nurtured. So many things are said, but it’s as true here as it is anywhere else: being data-driven is a journey, not a destination.

To learn more about this topic, please read our report The road to becoming a data-driven company.

About Michael G. Walter

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