The Critical Role Played by CEOs in Creating a Data-Driven Culture

In this write-up, we have discussed the critical role played by CEOS in creating a data-driven culture.

Data-Driven Culture

The business world is now data-driven, and many companies are driving themselves to become data-focused. If an organization is data-driven, there are many benefits like scaling is easier, competitive edge, becoming more agile, and leveraging opportunities. You also can drive innovation and create value despite moving economic landscapes. Data is an important asset that is valuable to any company. It is a strategic asset that can help you gain a better footing in the business world. This is why top executive leaders need to think of data beyond numbers. Understanding where their business fits into the data ecosystem is important for every CEO. The CEO is responsible for driving the organization’s culture and leading the charge.

Despite every company having large amounts of data, there is some unused data that organizations process, collect, and store. A survey shows that this dark data amounts to 55% of the company’s data on average. This data can have the potential for some high-level insights. This data goes unused cause the company does not have the tools and technology to understand, capture, or make sense of it.

The Role of the Modern CEO in creating a data-driven culture

Data has been recognized as a need. But a 2021 survey by NewVantage Partners Big Data and AI Executive shows that only 1 in 3 companies have a structured data strategy and will experience business outcomes. As per the survey, the biggest roadblocks in this are process, people, and culture. Every process is now being restructured around data; people are also data-oriented. CEOs have realized that insights into people are derived from data. The CEO needs to understand the potential and value of the data and trust it.

The CEO is the senior-most and most important leader in any organization. There is a high reliance on data during the decision-making process. This means the CEO is the whole central figure in this process. CEOs need to understand the data process and navigate the domain to ensure progress. The CEO is the core champion of the business culture and hence changes how the company works. As per HBR, “The CEO relies on data for decision making and enhancing the business to the whole company.” CEOs also need to have a partner to lead data analytics progress in the company.

What the CEO can do to Create a Data-Driven Business Culture

The CEO is the primary member of the organization. His ideas and policies shape the organizational policies. To initiate a data-driven culture, the CEO must look at centralizing data in their operations. They must be engaged and involved in data activities, encourage a data-centric process, make sure employees understand data intricacies, and take sufficient action on data analytics results.

The use-case of data is crucial

Don’t collect data to simply not use it. You need to consider use-cases and possibilities of leveraging this data.  Think of it like a maze- what are the main challenges, what are the pain points, what are you trying to address, or what problems are you trying to solve. With that in mind, you need to use data analytics and insights to identify the metrics that will help you track progress. If you simply collect data and don’t use it, you are making the firm, analytics, and insights redundant, to say the least.

Hire the right people

If you have a sword and don’t know how to use it, it is as good as not having one. This is the case with data. In some cases, there is no accountability for data usage. This function or role needs to be owned by a professional- this is a deciding factor. You need to hire staff responsible for analyzing and making sense of data. This means either the CEO needs to be capable enough of understanding these data insights or hire an expert. An expert here is the Chief Data Officer or CDO- a person who can create business value by harnessing the various insights provided by data.

Culture needs to be data-centric 

Another important aspect is ensuring your employees understand the power of data and encourage data usage across the company. For example- You can share a dashboard of the key metrics that matter across the company. You also need to engage a set of tools and processes that will capture, analyze, and simplify data. Internally, the employees need to highlight any success. The culture will change if there is an initiative on the CEO’s end through-

  • Educational Programs: Programs and events about group problem solving, design thinking, hackathons, and such exercises can help improve the educational level in the organization. Encouraging these events improves education on data aspects a lot.
  • Lead by example- Employees and managers need to lead by example with AI and data analytics practices in their jobs. This will drive adoption and show value. Leaders need to ask and approach employees frequently if they have any points or doubts they want to put across.
  • Rewards and Promotions: Rewarding employees with promotions and salary hikes can ensure that they use data practices in their job. You need to get other employees to notice the benefits of data and hence bring advancement in the job.

Have Confidence in the Data insight

The ultimate goal of any CEO should be to trust the algorithms and data. The precursor to this is ensuring that the data is not biased and diligent quality control measures are in place. This will happen when the CEO appoints a CDO to take care of the process.

Collaboration is Key

You need to understand new technology perspectives and capabilities. This will help us apply technological changes and recognize new capabilities. The road to success in the data field is driving new partnerships. You cannot afford to go alone in the data industry sector. The CEO needs to collaborate, reinvent, evaluate, and understand how intelligent automation and processes can help with competence and relevance.13

Bottom Line: Time for CEOs to lead into a Data-driven Culture

Even if CEOs do not understand the importance of data culture, they need to look at data as crucial. They might lack the expertise on the subject to convince others. However, they need to put the responsibility on able shoulders and create a data-centric vision for users. This will help them gain the advantages of being a data-driven organization. There will be hurdles and issues to leverage data for decision-making. The CEO needs to launch programs across the company to represent data as crucial. You also need to encourage cross-functional teams and highlight success stories. All this will help you transform into a data-driven organization.

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