Apparently, 1% of Fortune 1000 organisations still have no plans to invest in data. What’s up with that? Since 2012, the idea of data as a new asset class, engine of transformation or driver of the fourth Industrial Revolution has swept through the business world and led to a “golden decade” of investment.
You didn’t have to work too hard to get approval for creating a new data office and appointing the first chief data officer in most sectors. With the tail wind of regulatory change, from GDPR in the EU through to banking reforms worldwide, the ability to work with reliable data on customers, markets and the business itself has become a must-have for all except a tiny group of hold-outs.
And yet, as we emerge from the chilling effects of the Covid-19 global pandemic, a new question is starting to be asked in boardrooms - where data get us for our money? For many, the answer is surprisingly downbeat. In the third annual survey run by NewVantage Partners and published in Forbes this February, only 29.2% reported achieving transformational business outcomes and just 24% of respondents said that they thought their organisation was data-driven this past year, a decline from 37.8% the year before.
That does not bode well for a department with ambitions in the face of companies which may be throttling back their investment plans in the face of complex global market conditions. So the vital question to ask now is what is going wrong and how can it be fixed?
DataIQ’s own research offers an important and useful insight. While one in five of our research panel describe themselves as Advanced in terms of the adoption of data and analytics, only one out of 29 describe their level of data literacy as Advanced. That is a huge gap into which investments plans risk falling unless something is done.
In researching my new book, “Becoming Data Literate,” I looked across our huge knowledge base to find the recurring ideas and approaches that more often lead to success with data. To make progress towards the desired state of data literacy, there are four pillars which create and support the right conditions for advancing the organisational capabilities, intelligence and outcomes from data.
The four pillars are:
As you can see, our view on how to make data investments pay off, ensuring that data offices operate with high productivity and business functions leverage data to transform their ways of working has a major focus on culture, not just data assets and technology. This is deliberate because the majority of organisations have made at least the first few steps in building their data foundations, but most of them have barely thought about how to change what the business does with them.
That is also why we have a definition of data literacy that expands beyond the hard skills required to read, understand and work with data. We view it like this: “Data literacy is a mindset that makes sense of the organisation, its market and customers through the use of data, combined with behaviours that share data definitions, assets, language and ways of working.”
Led by the data office and with the engagement of business stakeholders, this is what will drive value out of data investments and transform organisations to make them future-ready. By embracing this viewpoint, that data culture-data maturity gap will begin to close.
“Becoming Data Literate” is published by Harriman House and is available from 31st August 2021