In part one of this article, we looked at why building an analytics community is key to data-driven transformation. The challenge faced by many companies lies in adopting and implementing data-led strategies while retaining market share in the face of sleeker, disruptive competitors for whom data is already part of their DNA.
Placing data at the core of organisational strategy requires a fundamental culture shift that is difficult to achieve and maintain without an active and engaged community at its core. The shared sense of purpose and the collaboration a community can deliver helps businesses use data to much greater effect than an organisation that operates in disengaged silos.
But, building a successful and lasting community culture takes time and effort. Here, we look at some useful steps that organisations can take to establish and maintain a thriving collaborative approach to analytics.
Many organisations already have analytics experts spread across their business with robust processes, excellent project work and strong, if sometimes underground, communication networks already in play. Finding these people represents the first step in unifying skills and experiences. What’s more, it can bring early advocates on board and help establish a network where relationships and contacts can quickly build to help spread the word that a community investment is being made.
Once those experts have been found, they must be connected to each other and actively encouraged to add their voices to the cause. Leaders can facilitate the process by providing opportunities to share and present great ideas to others, to provide general education or practical comparison meetings. These are all great ways to start and it’s a process that offers the opportunity to get participants aligned from the beginning.
Those initial meetings play a key role in establishing and building the spirit that will begin to bind people together. Incentivised action, in the form of activities such as hackathons, workshops, webinars, or conferences, demonstrates to participants that their nascent community can add value to their working life, culture and wider skillset. In these early stages, don’t forget to prioritise community projects and reward actionable insight generated from them.
Early community advocates can quickly become data champions. They represent an important, engaged and active sub-group and, as such, they should be able to review the results of projects and practice together. Building process standards and best practice habits (and documentation) won’t just keep quality high, it will provide an easier entry point for new people with new ideas.
Regular communication between the people and processes within the organisation will naturally begin to identify wider needs, and it’s at this point that the net can be spread wider. In doing so, the community can recruit a greater depth of talent inside the organisation to lend their own experiences to data practice, while recruiting from outside to fill gaps. Encouraging and supporting employees to attend external tech meet-ups and report back on practices, for example, means ideas and methodologies can then be adopted internally.
At this point, leaders can begin to visualise people and processes as their own skills academy. From the experience, results and best practices now achieved, it soon becomes practical to form a fully-functioning business centre to drive, execute and hugely expand the broader work of the organisation.
Data is the most important tech trend since 1990 and implementing a data-driven strategy has never been more important for companies wishing to retain market share in the face of tech-native, agile competitors. Building a data analytics community which unifies talent across the business provides key benefits and quick wins towards embedding the right culture and building the required capability.
Liz Matthews, head of community and education, Mango Solutions