Data culture – the path to sustainable success?

What is a data-driven corporate culture, why should it be established and what are the challenges?

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In the context of Business Intelligence, the buzz word «data culture» is often heard, as companies are facing a major transformation. To improve decisions, processes, products and services, they should make full use of their data. For a long time, the IT department or special data analysts had to be hired for this. With modern BI software, however, it is possible for all employees to analyse data and gain important insights from it. For this to become a new habit for employees, however, the corporate culture must evolve towards a data-driven culture.

What is a data culture?

The term data culture can be defined in different ways. Most commonly, it refers to all the norms, mindsets and behaviours within an organisation that encourage employees to regularly learn about data, analyse it and make data-driven decisions. Data is therefore used on a broad level and not just by a few employees.

The following factors shape a data-driven culture:

  • Data is treated as an important resource by all employees from different areas of a company, and it is handled safely and with integrity.
  • Every employee understands what should be achieved with the data and its analyses
  • Decisions are based on data and analysis, not on opinion or gut feeling
  • Decisions are made efficiently and effectively based on data
  • Reliable data is provided and documented at all times

Goals of a data culture

The goal of a data culture is therefore to empower and encourage all employees to actively use data to facilitate their daily work, to make decisions and to fully utilise the potential of the company in this way. This optimises decisions, improves actions and creates competitive advantages.


Why is a data culture important?

As a recent survey by BARC shows (to the BARC Data Culture Survey), improved decision-making, process improvements and cost reductions are the greatest benefits of a data culture. However, a successful data culture also helps to increase turnover, achieve better acceptance of decisions and create competitive advantages. At the same time, the study also showed that it is an essential part of modern corporate culture and can thus also attract talented employees or make them stay. So what starts as a strategic decision to improve competitiveness can also make an important contribution to recruitment.
As the study showed, finance departments (62 percent) and sales (42 percent) are often the departments of a company that are most data-driven and make corresponding decisions. But data-based decisions can also advance a company in marketing, logistics or production, for example.


Challenges in building a data culture

Despite the many benefits of a strong data culture, becoming a company with a data-driven culture is not that easy. Companies that want to establish a data culture face several challenges:

1. Data democratisation

In the past, data was the responsibility of IT staff or data scientists and analysts. However, if company-wide data-driven decisions are to be made, employees must have access to all data relevant to their decisions and must be able to carry out the analyses themselves.
In addition, employees are often unaware of what data already exists in a company – especially if it has been stored in locked silos. Therefore, it is important not only to provide employees with access to this data, but also to create awareness of what data is already available.

2. Data literacy

If a data culture is to be established, employees often need to learn the skills to interpret, create, analyse and communicate data correctly first. Comprehensive training as well as support and encouragement by managers are important for this. Intuitive business intelligence software with self-service BI and intelligent dashboards can also help employees to interpret data and communicate their findings, for example by presenting the data in charts.

3. Data governance

At the top of many data users’ list of concerns is often the reliability of data, or data quality, because flawed data leads to poor decisions. Therefore, data governance guidelines are important, which define, for example, who is responsible for data or how quality control and improvement is carried out. This way, employees can assume that the data used is consistent, complete, valid, accurate and up-to-date.

4. Data security and privacy

When managing data, its security and protection is a particularly high priority – especially in the context of data protection laws such as the GDPR. If a data-driven corporate culture is to be established, companies must therefore strike a balance between data protection and at the same time making as much data as possible available to their employees. In particular, if data is to be stored in a cloud or made available to employees in a remote office, companies must introduce regulations for data security.



A data-driven corporate culture is an important success factor for modern companies. However, there are some challenges in establishing the data culture that need to be considered. Well-designed BI software can not only make all data conveniently available to your employees and help them analyse it, but also support you in the topics of data governance as well as data security and protection.


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