Intelligence Elevated: Accessibility as One Part of the Equation

By Myles Suer

Published on November 8, 2022

A hand over a mousepag while holding a pen in-between fingers.

In a previous blog post I wrote about the concept of data accessibility: how an ever-growing number of successful organizations are increasingly using data to help make more intelligent business decisions.

For the concept to work, I argued that organizations will need to become accessible. That means more people, at every level, must have more access to data and the language and tools to use it — because while intelligence is mined from data, insights that drive decision making are derived from the people who use it.

Accessibility is one part of the “Intelligence Elevated” equation. This blog focuses on how that access is achieved.

Bottom-line BI benchmarks

By now, we’re all familiar with how self-service data can drive business intelligence that helps the bottom line. But it’s also imperative for organizations to use data to help them thrive in a landscape where ESG, DE+I, and professional development are benchmarks of success. Forward-looking organizations that successfully achieve those goals — Impactful Organizations — understand the benefits of investing in those impactful success benchmarks, which are achieved with data-derived insights.

So, how does an organization become Impactful? It begins with developing a data culture. That’s a longer story for a future blog post, but to summarize, it’s about becoming an organization data-driven in everything you do — having a spirit of curiosity permeating an entire organization.

In discussing her role as CDO at Tableau, Wendy Turner-Williams recently told Satyen Sangani, co-founder & CEO of Alation in the Data Radicals podcast, “You need to be able to talk to others. You have to be able to have a learner’s mindset. You have to understand what different teams and functions do and how they play into a bigger picture so that you can get into cause and effect. And then when you start to do that, you have a lot more ability to actually have an impact.”

This organization-wide desire to understand how and why things happen — and to use intelligence to make better decisions — is what defines an Impactful Organization.

Companies have been reporting on DEI for some time now. According to Gartner’s excellent guide on how organizations can measure their DEI efforts, “Setting a sustainable DEI strategy cannot be achieved without reliable metrics that allow HR professionals to help leaders understand the current state of DEI within the organization, track its progress over time, and hold themselves accountable to DEI goals.”

Although headcount is relatively easy to measure and report, inclusion — employees feeling a sense of empowerment and belonging — is another story. As ThoughtSpot chief data strategy officer Cindi Howson wrote in an article for HBR, “The challenge is that it’s often difficult to know what’s going on inside a company. Habits, existing processes, and unconscious biases shape our understanding of what’s happening, which can cause us to overlook issues or over-index on correcting them. Data can reveal the irrefutable truth, turning a conversation based on opinions and beliefs into one based on facts.”

She pointed to industrial giant Schneider Electric as an example of a company using AI and analytics to track diversity and inclusion KPIs as part of its goal to ensure an equitable, inclusive workforce. I agree with her conclusion that it’s imperative both business wise and socially to use data to ensure more diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Fostering organization-wide data literacy

Professional learning and development is another area where organizations can use data to measure their efforts. In a bit of a twist, one of the first things to be measured should be data literacy.The Alation State of Data Culture Report from Q3 of 2021 surveyed 300 data and analytics leaders at businesses with 2,500+ employees in the U.S., UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway to provide a more objective measure of the status of dataculture at enterprises across the world and the factors behind it.

According to that report, “formal learning and development plans to increase data literacy are the top initiatives to foster a data culture.” This all circles back to that spirit of curiosity I mentioned earlier. An organization prioritizing learning and development is more likely to develop the data culture that is so highly valued today. It’s an exciting idea because the learning inspires more curiosity and the curiosity leads to more learning. Organizations with that kind of cultural spirit will be well poised to compete in the years to come.

Want to learn more about building a data culture?

  • Listen to the Alation CEO Satyen Sangani and Jennifer Belissent, Principal Data Strategist at Snowflake, discuss data culture and data literacy on the Data Radicals podcast.

  • Bottom-line BI benchmarks
  • Fostering organization-wide data literacy
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