Championing Data-Driven Culture to Enhance Business Decisions

Town Hall Insights
UK & Ireland CDAO Community

Di Mayze

Global Head of Data & AI



Suze Howse

Head of Enterprise Data



Ruben Lara

Data & Analytics Director

Tesco Plc


Dan Robertson

Chief Data & Analytics Officer


MARCH 2023

Fostering a data-driven culture across the enterprise is a central area in which CDAOs can have a huge influence on their organisation’s broader business decision-making process. In this context, championing the importance of data and a scientific mindset is a pivotal factor in enhancing business decisions and outcomes. Nevertheless, it is not always clear exactly which areas should be invested in order to foster a data-driven culture and what KPIs should be used to measure its success. 

Data-driven culture and literacy is a top priority for CDAOs in the UK & Ireland region and the broader Evanta CDAO community. In a recent Town Hall, CDAOs in the UK & Ireland region came together to discuss the key steps in fostering a data-driven culture, as well as how this can influence decision-making across all levels of the organisation. The following CDAO Governing Body Members led this interactive session: Di Mayze, Global Head of Data & AI, WPP, Suze Howse, Head of Enterprise Data, M&S, Ruben Lara, Data & Analytics Director, Tesco Plc and Dan Robertson, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, BUPA

Executives discussed various strategies to create a data-driven culture as well as key challenges encountered on the way. They provided three key approaches to data-driven culture – all of which can be implemented in unison to provide a comprehensive strategy for influencing their organisation’s broader business decision-making processes. Here are the key takeaways.

  1. Focus on Mindset and Behaviours when Developing a Data-Driven Culture

The first strategy discussed relates to how team members and executives engage with the data and technology that is available to them. Across organisations, there is a marked pressure for CDAOs to equip their teams with the most up-to-date data collation technologies. However, one lesser-discussed aspect is whether stakeholders across the organisation actually care to learn about how these technologies can be used in the first place. 

CDAOs can empower their teams by providing access to new data and technologies, but unless individual stakeholders actively learn how to best utilise them, broader organisational developments toward a data-driven culture will be severely restricted. 

So what can CDAOs do to help this? One proposal is to establish a dedicated academy to train colleagues on how to best utilise new technologies and harness data, and perhaps more crucially, why it is in their interest to do so. 

Another option is to establish sit-down focus groups and reverse mentoring, where members of the data teams are able to collaborate with colleagues in other departments across all levels of the organisation. This can enable those familiar with these new data technologies to demonstrate and communicate their value to broader areas of the business.

Ultimately, the goal here is to get employees and stakeholders to care as much about harnessing data and technology as they do their own individual projects and goals.

  1. CDAOs should Promote a Scientific Mindset 

Another strategy discussed was to adopt a ‘scientific mindset’ while approaching the prospect of a data-driven culture. This involves fostering a working environment where employees feel comfortable formulating hypotheses and running experiments to validate what works – and what does not.

Crucially, this requires establishing a setting where employees feel that it is okay to try and fail – where even perceived failures can provide valuable insights into whether a particular approach is working or not. Here, CDAOs should promote a mindset of measuring and retesting, where broader organisational developments are informed by empirical data, which can only be garnered through testing and re-testing.

By adopting a scientific mindset, executives and employees across all levels of the organisation can reconceptualise what it truly means for a particular approach to ‘fail’ – as a natural consequence of testing and re-testing.  Approaching data with a scientific mindset ultimately presents an opportunity for employees and stakeholders to learn about which strategies are working for them, as well as those are not. 

  1. Data ‘in One Click’

The final approach discussed was the prospect of having the right data available to the right people, at the right time, all ‘in one click’. 

A key element of this approach is data democratisation, where everyone in the organisation – irrespective of their position or proximity to the data team – has access to all relevant data streams. Here, the discoverability of data – alongside the knowledge and enthusiasm around how data technologies can be used – serves as a core principle for the organisation’s maturity journey.

Ultimately, enabling data to be available ‘in one click’ helps to remove siloes and enhance an organisation's customer-centric focus.

Focus on the ‘Silent Majority’ to Achieve a Data-Driven Culture

These three approaches shared by the executives offer unique insights into how CDAOs can champion a data-driven culture to enhance business decisions. These approaches are not mutually exclusive and must be implemented alongside each other in order to effectively influence the organisation’s broader business decision-making processes. However, throughout all these approaches, one central concept remains prominent. This is the shift in focus from advocates and detractors towards those who are apathetic about leveraging new data technologies. 

It is inevitable that a small (albeit significant) number of key-decision makers will remain entrenched in their own preconceived notions around what the best strategies are for making business decisions – many of which do not involve leveraging a data driven culture.

Rather than investing time and resources into converting these detractors into advocates, CDAOs advised their peers to focus on the ‘silent majority’ – those across the organisation who do not necessarily hold strong opinions around the issue, one way or the other. By shifting your attention towards this silent majority, you will be able to influence the perspective of a much greater number of individuals across the organisation, establishing a data driven culture.

Explore more key topics like championing data-driven culture by joining a community of like-minded peers. Members of our communities come together several times a year to connect, exchange ideas and experiences, and validate strategies and solutions. You can share your perspective with the community via our in-person and virtual gatherings such as our Executive Summits, Town Halls, Peer Roundtables, and also through content pieces like this.

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