Data Culture: Why Your Organization Should Think Beyond Big Data

Is now the time to remove the term “big data” from your vocabulary and rethink how you can best become a data-driven organization? A recent NewVantage Partners survey lays out a cultural case.

You may be using data, but are you integrating data deep into your organization’s DNA?

If you said “no,” welcome to the club. A recent study from NewVantage Partners [PDF] makes the case that, while big data (and, by extension, artificial intelligence) are important, there’s more opportunity for organizations that build a culture around data.

Certainly, data is bringing measurable results, according to more than 60 percent of executives who responded to the ‌Big Data and AI Executive Survey 2019, but the challenge is trying to build on that work organizationally.

The report notes that 31 percent of respondents said they have a data-driven organization, while 28 percent said they have a “data culture.” Meanwhile, 87.8 percent of executives felt an urgency to further invest in initiatives driven by data.

While the report’s authors say this shows clear signs of progress, significant issues remain: For example, business adoption of big data and AI were still an issue for more than three-quarters of respondents.

“In critical respects, one could argue that the glass remains half full—that progress has been slow, and that many companies still lack commitment to data-driven organizational processes and cultures,” authors Thomas H. Davenport and Randy Bean wrote.

So what should associations and nonprofits make of this? In a Forbes blog post published this week, Justin McCord, vice president of marketing for RKD Group, noted that nonprofits struggle with resources compared to their for-profit peers, and part of it might come from the heavy lean on buzzwords in the space.

Instead, McCord recommends utilizing data as a key business asset. “For nonprofits, this means the data you have on those who have engaged with you—volunteered or donated—is central to your organizational value,” he wrote. “This asset can help you to centralize data governance to strategically drive marketing efforts.”

Other tips from McCord include establishing a data strategy task force, looking at data management practices, and sharing lessons on data with the broader workplace.

If that sounds easier said than done, that’s not an accident.

“This isn’t a one-time side project,” he said. “Forging a data culture is an iterative, behavioral commitment that requires constant collaboration and sharing.”

(jesadaphorn/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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