The data industry calls for a change in culture

What are the biggest barriers to implementing an Information Management strategy? We asked respondents in our recent ‘State of Data’ survey to answer that question – and the responses were interesting.

Not surprisingly, a sizable amount of replies spoke to a lack of resources or budget. And whilst these obstacles can certainly be a factor of cost constraints, they can also be a result of the most common answer: lack of buy-in from the C-suite (23%). The perception that management doesn’t “get” data is still prevalent, even as data adoption becomes more widespread.

Change begins at the top

Part of this might stem from the need for more data experts at the executive level. The past several decades have seen the rise of Chief Financial, Marketing and Operating Officers in response to changing business trends. Now, as data and analytics are undeniably altering the business climate, enterprises may need to add more experience and depth at the top. For some companies, assigning the role to the CIO may be sufficient; for others, they would benefit from creating new senior positions in data and analytics, or adding more data professionals to their boardrooms.

Especially given the cross-functional impact of data, failure to address it head-on at the executive level could mean lost opportunities to grow the business. What’s more, when company leadership learns to embrace data, it creates a momentum and an imperative for the rest of the organisation to get on board as well, and establish processes and measurable outcomes for data initiatives.

Cultural changes on the front lines are needed too

In light of some of the comments left by respondents, we see evidence of a divide between IT, information management, and rest of the business as well. Some conveyed the sense that IT push back on data requests, and even that they consider IM “bogus” – that if it’s not technology, it’s not IT, according to one respondent. At the same time, there’s a lack of clarity on the business requirements, as they’re too massive or vague, rather than having a defined and well-communicated strategy.

Enterprises need to grasp the fact that data can impact every aspect of the organisation. Our feeling is that it should not be shoehorned in with the IT department, but stand on its own. A dedicated data and information management department can allow a company to align strategy, business objectives and technology to fully harness the potential of a robust data strategy. To be even more successful in improving cultural divides, data professionals should strive to improve their influencing skills and the presentation of their work, and to better understand and translate business objectives.

In summary, all signposts point to cultural change as a key driver for data adoption going forward – the hurdles are not technological, but are centred around creating alignment of purpose and process among senior management, IT and data management specialists.

These are gaps that call for increased investment, not in hardware or software, but in the human element, at all level of the organisation, including the C-suite. Enterprises must focus on creating a culture that places value on influencing skills, emotional intelligence, communication and collaboration in order to propel their data efforts forward and realise real results.

What do you see as the biggest hurdles to wide-scale data adoption? Why is there frustration being expressed with the C-suite’s commitment to data? We’d love to know what you think.

KDR Recruitment is the home of the best data, technology and analytics jobs. For more data news and views follow KDR on LinkedIn.

Mark Dexter

June 8th, 2015 View my profile

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