Data Thinking for Organisational Transformation

What transformation looks like when data is given prominence.

Many organisations undertake transformation using the four pillars approach. The four pillars are Data, People, Process and Technology. This constructive approach ensures focused data thinking. Firstly, thinking about data in isolation, so that you can identify your ideal future state and the data required. Secondly, data thinking can be applied across the other pillars. In this article we explore data thinking across all areas of organisational transformation.

The Data Pillar

How a data focus supports organisational transformation.

Knowing the data and data capabilities that you have, and need, becomes clear when data is a focused part of your transformation project.

Informed by what it is you want to know in future, the data pillar will question “Is our data fit for purpose?” and “What data do we need moving forward?”.

This scope of work will focus on capabilities to be developed or acquired to ensure data supports your organisation’s shift to its ideal future state, and enables your organisation to thrive once the transformation project has been completed.

It is the data people – specialists within your organisation or specialists contracted to boost your resources – who will be responsible for the data pillar. Your data people will determine what needs to be developed to support the transformation, such as a data roadmap, data strategy, architecture, migration etc. And it will be these people who manage the creation of those capabilities.

Data thinking as a dedicated pillar of organisational transformation has the intrinsic benefit of strengthening your organisation’s data culture, placing value on data and data management.

People + Data

About the people who work in your organisation.

All people across your organisation should be considered under the people pillar. The people who use data may be grouped into one of three categories – staff who collect or create the data, business users of the data, and data scientists or analysts who analyse and apply the data.

In particular, data thinking should be applied to programs of work that focus on people’s capabilities and your workplace culture.

In an increasingly data-dependent world, you must understand the data capabilities of your staff that will be required in future.

How will data capabilities be met?

Do you need to build capabilities around data literacy? Will the production of a data glossary be built into your program?

What are the capabilities around the use of analytic tools, and new or existing software? Can you develop these capabilities internally or is recruitment required? Will all your people be provided with training or will focused capability uplift be just for some people?

While only some people may need specific data capabilities, all people across your organisation should value data. Building a culture that values data leads to respect of data, organisation processes, and data people, and will ultimately lead to greater business outcomes for your organisation.

All too often we hear stories about business units that create their own private data repository and miss out on the benefits of collective data storage and use, or individuals who don’t enter data because it’s not useful for their work and takes time.

A culture that values data features people who are not just concerned about self, but the impact of their behaviour down the line. Strengthening culture should be a consideration of your transformation program.

Processes + Data

What processes are needed in your organisation?

When defining business processes, define the data required.

At the same time, you can ask is data supporting your business processes?

Assess if processes are behaving in the right way for collecting and utilising the data required, for example enabling the collection of quality data.

Organisational transformation usually means new systems, and new reporting procedures. You may need to do some sort of migration or business definition exercise. You will need to embed new ways of working.

You should ask, “What’s the process of bringing in brand new data?”

Perhaps there are no defined processes around data.

Data governance may need to be deployed. You will need to consider your organisation’s data governance framework, as well as roles and responsibilities.

Your transformation program of work may need to include updating existing data governance, or establishing structured data governance. (If you’d like to know more about data governance, download our Data Governance eBook)

Technology + Data

Technology enabling the best use of data and organisational transformation.

Technology and data are interconnected, but are very different things.

Before computers, data was translated onto paper, interpreted by human analysts, and stored in filing cabinets. Technology has been developed to enable faster, more efficient and more accurate collection, storage and use, of much more complex data.

Within organisational transformation, the technology pillar focus is about technology required to meet business requirements. From a data perspective, it is important to think about where the source of truth of data will be and how that is maintained.

In addition, specific to data capabilities you need in your ideal future state, you should review and consider the following technology.

  • Data architecture: data modelling tools, data catalogue tools, business glossary, metadata
  • Data: data quality, data integration, data migration
  • Reporting and analytical: reporting and analytical tools and platforms

Consider if your technology is enabling you to make the most of the data you have, and if it will allow you access to and analyses of accurate data you’ll need in the future.

Next Steps

Where to next in your organisational transformation?

I hope this has provoked some re-evaluation, and provided you with confidence to keep moving forward with your organisational transformation.

If you missed part 1 of this series – The Key to Successful Organisational Transformation, click here or visit the Insights page at dataagility.com.

In our final article in the Organisational Transformation series, we will cover how to undertake organisational transformation, with a focus on the data pillar.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to discuss your specific organisational transformation, contact a member of our Data Agility team today.

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