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data insights people

More than 75% of C-level executives consider it a top priority to better leverage data and analytics in their decision-making. Unfortunately, less than half of individual workers say the same — a disconnect that highlights how hard it can be to make those C-level priorities a reality.

Forrester recognizes that company culture change is one of the hardest yet most important part of any data and analytics initiative. Data leaders are essential in this process and they can emerge anywhere in the company, from line-of-business professionals to enterprise architects and all the way up to the C-suite itself. To step up into that role yourself, read Forrester’s report for advice on preparing for, activating and nurturing an insights-driven culture.

Break down silos—for both personnel and data

Eliminating silos is the first step toward making a data-driven culture possible. Forrester notes that an insights-driven culture depends on collaboration, and they suggest steps like aligning team incentives and building a collaboration scoreboard to help foster that collaboration. But even when people are willing to work together, incompatible data formats or permissions can mean that silos remain. Eliminating silos requires arole-based approach to data democratization—allowing each person to work with the data that matters most to them.

Forrester notes that “insights-oriented leaders must determine the data or insights each role requires and the best way to deliver it.”  Current technologies make that easier—for instance, an enterprise-ready analytics platform based on Hadoop can help you seamlessly use both structured and unstructured data. Using such a solution, a sales team that relies on the unstructured data in customer notes can be just as insights-driven as a supply chain team that relies on transactional data. When silos are removed, all your teams can use the data that’s relevant to them to collaborate and advance company-wide priorities.

Develop the right skills

Forrester’s research also reveals a gap between executive and employee opinions on data skills. A majority of company leaders think they can attract, hire, train and retain the talent necessary to find data-driven insights but individual workers aren’t so sure. This revelation is not easily dismissed. Line-of-business employees work with data for multiple tasks on a daily basis and are often better equipped to assess the strength of company culture.

The discrepancy in data skill confidence led Forrester to suggest organizing training workshops to improve skills — at all levels. While workshops are a step in the right direction, you can make that job even easier with technology that allows people to leverage the skills they already possess. Imagine, for instance, your organization is running a Hadoop-based data lake that works with a multitude of different SQL dialects. Rather than retraining your workforce on a single SQL dialect, you could augment your Hadoop distribution with a query engine that allows the seamless use of multiple dialects. This reduces the need for retraining and can be a quick way to add value to existing skills while meeting the demands of an insights-driven culture.

Work with the right partner

Building this insights-driven culture requires a “team” approach both within and outside your organization. Ambitious organizations don’t have to move forward alone.

Many data and analytics vendors can advise you on skills development and business processes. However, you should make sure to work with vendors that have a legacy of industry experience and actively work to support the open-source community through involvement in organizations and individual open-source contributions. Make sure that they are able to share a comprehensive and well-integrated view of data management. View this Interactive Guide to Hybrid Data Management for a better understanding of data management, and how its evolving. Vendors meeting these criteria will be more knowledgeable about your needs, have a broader understanding about the solutions available, be able to develop a proof of concept (PoC) and ultimately implement a well-integrated solution suited to additional growth. As Forrester notes, PoCs are crucial to “build momentum and trust,” “test new analytics approaches to a business problem” and “familiarize teams with the methodology.” PoCs are a crucial piece of preparing your organization to use data insights, and the right vendor can help you achieve these proofs quickly.

Next steps

While Forrester’s research reveals that there’s a gap between executive-level and employee-level attitudes toward becoming a data-driven organization, with the right strategy and help, you can become a data leader and stand out as a key driver of an insights-driven culture in your organization.

Read the report today to see the full list of suggestions Forrester shared with C-suite executives and find additional opportunities to make your data management strategy a competitive advantage.