As businesses mature and their operating landscape becomes increasingly competitive, what previously might have been a “gut” decision, is no longer applicable. Data and empirical evidence begin to take precedence over intuition.
It is more important than ever to start thinking about creating a data culture where experimentation is prioritized with privacy and security in mind.
Companies can start to heavily benefit from a strong data culture, leveraging and utilizing it as the foundation to drive the decision-making processes. Having good data hygiene pays dividends later on, as businesses can leverage the abundance of data previously gathered to create new products, optimize their business, compete in new markets, and improve existing experiences.
An example of this can be seen with Uber. Strong data culture in the company helped them leverage storing and utilizing historical data in order to improve the Uber Rider app.
Netflix is another example of a data-driven company from its inception. Their blog is filled with examples of how analytics can help drive business decisions.
Creating a data culture shouldn’t be driven by any single department, as this creates data silos, but rather it should be part of the DNA of the company, and if needed steered by engineering.
Infrastructure should be an enabler rather than a show-stopper, it’s important to understand what is required from the start as pivoting the entire infrastructure should be avoided when possible. Modern data stacks can dramatically streamline the process of managing and interpreting data. Tools such as Apache Flink - can enable real-time data processing. Modern storage solutions such as Databricks, Delta Lake and Snowflake make storing data much more effective than before.
A common pitfall data organizations fall into is creating artificial data silos, where each department owns their data and sharing starts becoming cumbersome. Copying data from one database to another to analyze and create insights can quickly become a heavy overhead. Investing in the right tools ensures that data is shared across organizations. In doing so, you empower the broader organization to be able to analyze the data, make inferences, and implement beneficial change.
Oftentimes, the most impactful insights come from unexpected places. You may be surprised when some of the most useful data and metrics are gathered by very distinct departments - marketing, customer engagement, and operations.
Once a strong data culture has been established, the next step is to act upon the data gathered. This process can be further subdivided.
Referred to as EDA, exploratory data analysis is often the entry point to data in any system. This process enables you to become familiar with the data, as well as discover data shapes, spot anomalies, understand data types, and much more. To get inspiration about EDA, Kaggle is a good resource. There are also a few open-source projects which help with the data analysis.
One of the hurdles in embracing a data culture is that not all data is created equal, that’s why understanding data plays such an important role. In order for data to be considered an asset, data must be valid and reliable. Each organization is different and must implement strategies they resonate with. However, a good rule of thumb is to think about the following:
Standards defined in this process can later be leveraged in more complex data pipelines, making it the foundation of a company's data strategy.
With a good understanding of data and a solid data quality plan, organizations can start thinking about leveraging their data. A good approach is to define reproducible processes and verify results. Organizations can think about the end result as a KPI - the end goal being to optimize for the indicator or metric.
This procedure usually consists of 5 stages:
In the end, the framework leaves the opportunity to continuously learn from your data and evolve your strategies.
It’s important to treat data in accordance with your domain. In any organization, substantial consideration should be given to data confidentiality and safety, as there are multiple regulators which must be adhered to.
In Europe, there is GDPR - and it gives control to individuals over their personal data. When designing data systems, designing with GDPR in mind can help save countless hours of rework later on.
There are also domain-specific data regulatory standards such as HIPAA in the United States, which outlines data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information, such as: establishing standards that protect individuals’ medical records, enforcing standards of protecting said data and ensuring confidentiality as well as require standardized electronic formats.
Keeping privacy and security in mind when leveraging data in any organization is critical as it will not only protect the organization from possible liabilities later on but also avoid re-work if the organization wants to enter new markets, where privacy and security are regulated by law.
In today's fast-paced and data-driven world, embracing a data culture is one way for organizations to stay competitive. Above, we’ve outlined key components to keep in mind, when embarking on the journey to understand customer preferences, optimize operations, and gain a competitive edge in your respective industry.
Transcenda helps organizations leverage data to drive organizational efficiency. We promote a hands-on approach where data engineers, data scientists, product, and other stakeholders collaborate, from discovery all the way to implementation and monitoring. We strive to gain actionable insights from data and unleash its full potential. Contact us to find out how we can put our expertise to work for your organization.