• Organizational

Building a Data-Driven Culture

6 steps to turn your company into a data-savvy business


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Several years since we first heard about Big Data, and how it could revolutionise the way we take business decisions, companies in a wide range of sectors are now reaping real value from advanced analytics. Yet too many organizations do not yet have a culture of data-based decision-making which could be adding value to their business.

A new research report from the ESADE Institute for Data-Driven Decisions looks at the position in Spain. The leading companies surveyed agreed that the following steps are the ones they followed and valued the most when implementing their big data and advanced analytics strategy:

6 steps to implement a data-driven strategy:

  1. Find a data-driven expert. Identify a middle-management person in your company with an analytical mentality and capacity to understand and interpret models, someone who can lead pilot tests at an operational level and who can also educate other people in the company.
  2. Identify business priorities. Identify business priorities in your company where one of the 3 following aspects is available: you haven’t used advanced modelling techniques, you have differential data compared to your competitors that you haven’t exploited or you have access to new internal or external data sources that could be incorporated into your business short-term.
  3. Conduct a small-scale pilot project. Define a small-scale pilot project that lasts from 8 to 12 weeks and tackles one of your identified business priorities. Ideally, this project should involve only one operational area of your business (or very few).
  4. 4. Find quick-wins. Focus your project goals on targeting first insights and quick wins, that is, small transformations and improvements that can be tested in the short term and generate convincing results for the organization.
  5. Use partial data samples. Start using partial data samples when it’s not possible to quickly obtain all the full data required to launch an initiative (for instance, start with a sample of customers in a specific area, consider only a limited type of products, a specific segment).
  6. Remember less is more. Focus your initial efforts – both in terms of investment and resources – on implementing pilot projects instead of trying to build large storage and data exploitation architecture systems.

The ESADE researchers conducted interviews with over a hundred leading companies in Spain in a variety of sectors. Despite recognising the impact big data could have, 60% of the companies surveyed cited two key barriers to realising the potential of big data and advanced analytics: i) The difficulty of obtaining reliable quality data; and ii) The lack of a deeply rooted analytical culture that would enable the company to understand analytical models.

55% of companies surveyed admitted that they don’t yet have a culture of data-based decision making and 40% acknowledged that they don’t have a specific leadership role for this area or if they do it was created less than one year ago. However, some companies did describe their culture as very analytical and amongst these 78% believe that the impact of their big data and advanced analytics projects is high or very high.

The findings also reveal that companies expect to triple the size of their big data staff in the next three years, and that companies with an annual turnover of more than €200 million (60% of the survey) spend an average of €1.8 million of their annual budget on data management.

The ESADE Institute for Data-Driven Decisions, a new centre that aims to help business leaders and executives increase their companies’ chances of success through data-based decision-making.

The full research report is available here (in Spanish): Adopción e impacto del Big Data y Advanced Analytics en España

ESADE Business School, since its inception in 1958, is one of the world's most prestigious business schools, and has become a frame of reference in the world of executive training.

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