Data culture – the secret to Digital Transformation?

Data culture – the secret to Digital Transformation?

As the amount of data increases exponentially, it is important to grasp an understanding of its value. Craig Stewart, CDO, SnapLogic, discusses how implementing a data culture within an organisation is the key to accelerating Digital Transformation.

The concept of Digital Transformation lies at the heart of many companies’ business strategy and its growing importance is demonstrated by the increasing need, and in some cases even demand for data literacy across all employees, from the reception to the boardroom. However, bringing in the latest hardware and software is often the first thing CEOs and CTOs think about when beginning their Digital Transformation journey, putting to one side the data literacy training, talent and support needed to truly derive value from their new technology. This issue is further compounded by the fact that broad strategies often take a back seat when decision-makers instead need to grapple with the short-term problems they are facing in the here-and-now.

A critical step is ensuring you have a ‘data culture’: this is when everyone in the organisation understands how data can help the business. According to McKinsey, on average, companies that treat their data as a corporate asset grow revenues five times faster than companies that don’t. If you want to accelerate your Digital Transformation journey, you’ll need to enable a robust and sustainable data culture first.

However, a strong data culture isn’t something that will appear overnight. It is essential that executives partner with dedicated data champions within each part of the business, to increase data literacy and help drive an understanding of its value throughout the organisation. Now that CTOs, CIOs and CDOs are working in lock-step with a more digitally-aware workforce, the positive impact of data on projects and transformations has undeniably grown.

If you ask any exec team what their tech and business strategy is coming out of the pandemic, undoubtedly you’d hear about plans to become more ‘data-driven’ and well-intentioned notions to digitally transform processes across the organisation. While in theory it’s a noble pursuit, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting employees on board to build the data culture needed to really push their business beyond the competition.  

In short, data culture is when everyone in the company understands the value of data and for a data culture to thrive, data must be positively ingrained in an organisation’s psyche, applied to everyone at the organisation, with employees urged to make decisions based on what the data is telling them.

A data culture lies at the heart of a Digital Transformation – by instilling a shared value, ethos and competency towards data in everyone that works for the organisation, the implementation of strategies and technologies necessary for successful Digital Transformation can be low-impedance, seamless and straightforward. The question is, how do you stimulate an environment that will help you reap those benefits?

Where to start?

As with any change in culture, developing and recruiting the right talent, training and leadership make a big difference. But in order to create a truly all-encompassing data culture, it is essential that those working at every level of the business ubiquitously or inherently understand how proper utilisation of data can support their work, whether that be improving HR processes or empowering sales teams. It’s not just job function either, regardless of seniority in a department, everyone needs to buy into the power of data from the top to the bottom.

At first glance it may be more difficult to understand how a data-first approach can be applied to all aspects of a business, for example, cleaning the workspace. However, imagine if a member of a facilities team realised that a flow of real-time data from the company’s door access system could indicate where the greatest footfall was in the building and at which time of day. Equipped with this daily and regular dynamic information, the team would have the visibility and insights to more efficiently and intelligently do their job, reducing their workload and improving employee engagement.

It’s examples like this that can be applied to all lines of business, from finance to marketing, HR to sales – when everyone starts thinking about data prioritisation, analysis and use then changes can start to be made which properly deliver on the promises of Digital Transformation. The benefits are not only to the organisation: data-driven work leads to more intelligent decisions, which leads to better jobs – as the old adage goes, ‘work smarter, not harder’.

From culture to transformation

Translating your newly nurtured culture into hard transformation is no small task and it starts with a carefully crafted strategy that sets out the answers to who, what, where, when, why and how. Outlining exactly how your new strategy will affect different teams across the business is essential to ensuring the approach has a central direction with measurable outcomes. Properly outlining a strategy will also help you build an appropriate schedule of training and support for your team as they change to a data-driven mindset.

The implemented strategy needs to look at the overall goals of Digital Transformation and the importance that the newly formed data culture will play within that. Once this has been decided and changes are being made, it’s time to think about implementing the right technology.

Armed with the right tools, employees with the right mindset can be empowered to change the fabric of an organisation – it can be beneficial to look out for the following things when creating your digital infrastructure:

  • Data management – A data-driven business needs one thing to thrive; data. As simple as it sounds, many businesses can find that important information can sit siloed out of reach of the people who need it most and may be able to derive the most value from it. Putting in place the right technology which can properly integrate, store and analyse and catalogue data is an essential first step.
  • Low-code/no-code – Technology that employs a low-code/no-code approach can reduce the degree of expertise required to engage with complex applications and systems. This can have the dual effect of reducing strain on beleaguered IT teams and also accelerating data-based decision-making out into the lines of business, resulting in that they can be more agile in what they do.
  • Catalogue – With your newfound explosion of data within your organisation, keeping track of what is where can be difficult. Deploying a platform that can offer you a holistic view of your data landscape can give you the edge in keeping track of what’s going on.
  • AI-powered – In recent years, the benefits promised by evangelists of AI and ML tech have been wide and varied, however, today we have a much more realistic view of what it can achieve. AI can help to enhance and supplement, or augment human decision-making. Any technology supplemented by AI may give you the edge against the competition


The creation of a data culture and company-wide Digital Transformation are two sides of the same coin. Both processes have the power to revolutionise the way businesses operate and can work complimentarily of one another with one acting as a catalyst for the other. Making sure that the right mindset, training, skills, leadership and technology are ready is the best place to start.

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