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CHAPTER 4
Data Culture is a journey, not a silver bullet
When ‘done right’ Data Culture can provide long-lasting, high-impact value for your organisation.
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In order to unlock the full potential of data and analytics solutions in your organisation, you need something more than just technology and data solutions. You need to focus on your people and ensure they feel empowered and excited by data to ensure that they are making insightful and data-driven decisions.  Why? Because understanding and changing peoples’ behaviours around data, as well as building new habits around decision-making, will serve as a differentiator to your business. In this manner, people in your organisation will feel empowered to make better and smarter decisions, underpinned by data. By changing behaviours, and therefore culture, data can be seen as a necessary asset for people on the ground, embedded in the experience of their daily work. Many organisations see Data Culture as an end state, rather than a continuous process. However, this approach ignores the transient nature of culture itself. Data Culture does not and cannot have the same start and endpoint as implementing a Data Governance programme for instance. Culture does not have a deadline.
Data Culture is not a data strategy or a vision statement and, as with ‘general’ culture, it exists through the observable behaviours of its members. It is therefore paramount to understand this point when striving to develop Data Culture in your organisation.  However, when given the time and the right support, developing a Data Culture in your organisation can be a value driver, in the same light as data strategy or data quality, therefore, should be approached as data strategy or data quality are as a driver of business value.
Data Culture is the meeting place of analytics, insight and the experience of work
Levels of Data Culture  Sometimes the value of Data Culture cannot be perceived because organisations try to bottleneck culture into a singular function. However, culture is anything but that. It is transient and fluid and made up of any number of parts, processes and behaviours.  To be successful and to provide long-lasting value, Data Culture needs to be seen as a long-term project, one that is integral to the functional running of a business. In this manner then, the focus of culture will shift from visible artefacts and their associated justifications to the deeper, underlying assumptions about culture. These are the ultimate source of action when it comes to data and its value and are therefore more likely to lead to a robust, tangible Data Culture being embedded.  With this in mind, it is clear that building a Data Culture does not happen overnight and, while there are quick wins, there is no easy fix. Building and embedding a Data Culture in your organisation is multi-faceted and takes time, effort and experimentation with new ways to apply data to daily work. Yet the journey towards developing a mature Data Culture is one which will ultimately deliver long-lasting value for your organisation that hugely outweighs the effort put in. 

Data is not the new oil

Data is often referred to as an untapped asset. And is therefore depicted as the great commodity of the 21st century, much like oil was in the 20th century.  But data isn’t really like a fuel, for one, it isn’t exhausted the more we use it. In fact, it’s almost the opposite. The more we use it, the more powerful it becomes. You might say that data isn’t the new oil, it’s the new soil.  And the nice thing about soil is that if you nurture it, maintain it - you can plant things in it that will grow. The better and more fertile the soil, the better the product.  Data can be nurtured and we can ‘plant’ things in it to make it better - approaches to business innovation, decision-making, performance improvement, processes. Even physical spaces in our organisations can be underpinned by data and analytics.