The Data Culture Playbook
A guide to building business resilience with data.
Data is no longer just a competitive advantage. It is critical to the health—and often the survival—of an organization. This playbook is intended for executives and data leaders who want to build resilience with data, starting with their workforce. Fostering a Data Culture equips every individual in your organization with the insights they need to tackle your most complex business challenges.
Introduction: Measuring the business impact of Data Culture
The COVID-19 pandemic showed that an agile, strategic use of data greatly impacts an organization’s ability to react to market changes. But getting the most out of your data requires more than just technology. It requires a commitment to promote data-driven decision making at every level of the organization.
Despite the trillions of dollars invested in data and analytics in recent years, leaders are still failing to create a data-driven culture.
According to a NewVantage Partners’ 2019 Big Data and AI Executive Survey comprised of 64 C-level executives:
This global crisis puts a spotlight on these failures and reminds us that organizations need to cultivate behaviors and mindsets that support a Data Culture—a shared mission to put data at the heart of every decision.
Even before this crisis, data-driven companies were reaping business benefits. Tableau commissioned global market intelligence firm IDC to conduct a study* to identify the key visible and invisible elements that influence a Data Culture. Surveying employees from large enterprises across the globe, they examined the drivers that separate data-leading organizations from those in earlier stages of adoption.
Source: IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Tableau, Why You Should Care About Data Culture, April 2020.
Compared with data-aware companies—those at the least mature end of the Data Culture scale—18 percent more of data-adopting companies saw revenues increase and 20 percent more saw profits increase. Yet the most successful companies are the data-leading organizations—those with the most successful Data Cultures.
Data-leading companies see benefits like:
Data Culture is even more critical now. McKinsey highlighted three areas that continue to evolve out of the COVID-19 crisis:
- In the United States, 75 percent of people using digital channels for the first time indicate that they will continue to use them post-crisis.
- Business and analytics leaders are rallying around new analytics solutions to support critical business areas in increasingly digital ways.
- Demand recovery will be uneven and historical data forecasting models will be of little use to predict where pockets of demand will emerge. Rebuilt analytical models will be essential to steer operational decisions.
Are you leading with data?
Find out by asking team members these questions:
Do people know how to interpret data?
Can people get help from colleagues with analytics or data-related questions?
Do we give people access to the data they need?
Are people accountable for the data they access and create?
Do we require data to support decisions?
Creating a Data Culture may seem daunting, even in the best of times. It takes a commitment from every level of the organization to influence how people think about and act on data insights. But the reality is, you can take incremental steps to build these capabilities now, knowing that the steps you take have a monumental impact on your resilience in the near-term and in the future.
How to use this playbook
This playbook lays out a simple, but effective roadmap for building a Data Culture. It contains four chapters, each with a specific focus area.
Chapter 2: Build data sources to address critical decision points
Chapter 3: Grow value with specific use cases
For each area, we outline how to make it happen—recommendations on how to build, run, and when you’re ready, expand and mature these capabilities.
Keep in mind that Data Culture isn’t linear—it’s a living organism that continuously evolves. We urge you to take a phased approach that makes sense for your organization’s goals and needs. The steps in this playbook can be executed and repeated, both as a Data Culture comes to life and after it is thriving.
Align leadership metrics to business priorities
Leaders from across the organization align on the most pressing business needs to determine where the organization should be focusing resources around data.
What it looks like:
Leadership buy-in ensures that individual leaders are all working toward the same goals and assigning data resources to areas that have the biggest impact. In times of rapid change, agile organizations assess and re-evaluate key priorities as conditions shift and learnings arise.
To understand how the business is performing against priorities, a data leadership committee creates a key set of metrics and works with the right people—typically an analyst team—to locate, create, and align data sources to support these metrics. In this stage, data sources help provide a snapshot view at the leadership level. Ideally, these sources are updated on a regular or real-time basis so leaders can define expectations on how a metric should perform. This affects how you prioritize more in-depth data sources for later analyses.
Abercrombie & Fitch creates alignment with real-time data
Abercrombie & Fitch uses near real-time data to guide a quarterly alignment meeting between executives, business group leaders, and product teams. These quick insights help leaders map out goals, align on intent, and determine where they want to focus their efforts.Read More
Making it happen:
Build data sources to address
critical decision points
Business metrics guide prioritization of data efforts and teams build data sources to address the most critical business questions.
If your data isn’t aligned to decision-making points, the data may be interesting, but it won’t be helpful and it won’t achieve results.
What it looks like:
Data owners and business owners form a tiger team, working together to identify or create a few key data sources that have a direct impact on organization-wide metrics. Ensure that these data sources align to one or multiple parts of a business process. For example, say one priority is customer growth. The data source might include information around customer behavior or the customer journey.
Next, identify critical decision points—points where you choose to start, stop, continue, or change aspects of your approach. Use your data sources to inform these points, explore and model potential outcomes, and measure the impact. For example, did efforts to optimize the customer journey result in higher website engagement and product trials? One data source can help you optimize many decision points before moving onto the next business process. This work sets you up for success before building out data assets that will be used across the entire organization.
Monitoring market recovery at the world’s busiest airport
Dubai Airports uses data to drive decisions around key experiences and systems—from check-in queue times to flight arrivals and departures. This strategic approach allowed them to monitor market recovery, facilities reopening, and passenger confidence related to COVID-19.Read More
[Analytics] helps us track evolving trends in the commercial aviation industry, enabling us to expand our network footprint and service offering.
Making it happen:
Grow value with specific
Create immediate value and engagement for priority use cases, sharing key data insights through dashboards and data visualizations.
What it looks like:
Create use cases aligned to priority areas to encourage interaction with data. These use cases take the form of data assets—visualizations, reports, dashboards, and/or workbooks—that are useful, engaging, and offer insights to help solve immediate business needs. Teams across the organization can evolve these assets to suit their own needs and identify other areas that could benefit from additional data assets or data sources. As these assets evolve, ensure that teams refer back to the definitions outlined in leadership metrics, so everyone is speaking the same language. Share victories and patterns of success to help create a virtuous cycle that expands and deepens engagement across the organization.
Generating organic excitement and trust at Red Hat
Red Hat’s Enterprise Data and Analytics team developed key performance dashboards, working closely with business leaders across all functional areas. This created synergy and trust that grew their data community and tripled their Tableau user base.Read More
People need to be able to formulate their own thoughts with data and to test their hypotheses in real time. Without that, it’s hard to actually solve business problems.
Making it happen:
People at all levels have the confidence and the knowledge to follow the data discovery cycle on their own with as little intermediation as possible and then use data insights to drive business decisions.
What it looks like:
Once people are confident with data, they will want to ask richer questions and create new data assets for themselves. In practice, this means that data must be well-described, well-governed, and accessible. It also requires widespread data literacy—the ability to explore, understand, and communicate with data. At this stage, organizations benefit from data literacy training programs to teach fundamental data skills. Fostering community programs gives people a dedicated space to ask questions, share best practices, and encourage engagement. At the beginning, these programs don’t have to be large efforts. They can take place where conversations are already happening, and as engagement grows, you can formalize efforts with dedicated owners, leaders, and processes.
JPMorgan Chase prioritizes community and data literacy
To deepen engagement across a 30,000-person community, JPMorgan Chase used a gamified structure with skill belts that guide people through different levels of data training depending on their experience.Listen to the presentation
Making it happen:
Future-proofing your organization
for whatever comes next
Future-proofing your organization for whatever comes next
The COVID-19 pandemic is widening the gap between the leaders and the laggards: those who are actively embedding data and analytics into the fabric of their company culture and those who are hesitant to invest in the programs and the technology that help them get there. Data-leading organizations pivot when necessary, innovate constantly, and refine consistently, giving them a distinct competitive advantage when times are tough.
Creating a Data Culture isn’t a matter of flipping a light switch. Now is the time to make incremental changes, starting with your workforce. Build out focus areas that lay the foundation for individuals and teams to expand their use of data. Taking these steps helps you move in the right direction, future-proofing your Data Culture for whatever lies ahead.
Meet the Tableau Platform: Flexible technology that supports a scalable Data Culture
Tableau is the world’s leading analytics platform. Powerful, secure, and flexible, the Tableau platform is designed for the individual and scaled for the enterprise. As a trusted advisor to the world’s largest organizations—including Honeywell, Charles Schwab, Nissan, and many more—Tableau helps customers successfully establish a culture of data built on trust and a strategic commitment to data.
Looking to accelerate your Data Culture? We wrote the Blueprint.
Tableau Blueprint outlines Tableau best practices based on the expertise of thousands of customers to help you turn repeatable processes into core capabilities. It helps you see the big picture—your analytics strategy—or zoom in on a specific area to fine-tune and improve.
Tableau was the catalyst to help employees have that ‘aha data moment.’ That flicker of data cognition turning into deeper understanding was what Nissan needed for success in a digital world.
for data leaders
*Source: IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Tableau, Why You Should Care About Data Culture, April 2020.