The Value of the Alation Data Culture Maturity Model for Your Organization

By Talo Thomson

Published on April 25, 2024

The Value of the Alation Data Culture Maturity Model

Since our founding 12 years ago, Alation has grown to serve more than 40 percent of the Fortune 100. We are lucky to count some of the most innovative and groundbreaking organizations in the world as our customers, from Salesforce to Pfizer. So what do these leaders (and their elite data teams) have in common? They’re relentlessly seeking ways to improve. After thousands of customer conversations with such teams, we’ve developed a framework to help them grow. The Data Culture Maturity Model (DCMM) is a guide for leaders to effectively measure data culture maturity, producing a guide to enhance that maturity – and achieve business results.

Nick Duce, Sr. Manager, Customer Strategy & Programs, has led many of those conversations. Last Fall, Nick shared an Alation video brief with customers to introduce them to the DCMM and articulate its purpose. What follows are the key takeaways from the video, which you can view here.

What is data culture maturity?

To aid organizations in their quest for data maturity, Alation has developed the DCMM. This model is a comprehensive framework for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of data programs within organizations. It goes beyond the technical aspects of data management, focusing on fostering a culture of data fluency and consistency across the organization.

Graphic displaying the Alation Data Culture Maturity Model

The four pillars of the DCMM are data leadership, search & discovery, data literacy, and data governance. Each pillar plays a critical role in shaping an organization's data maturity journey:

Data leadership: “Leadership is often the most brushed over or diminished tenet of data maturity,” Duce points out. Yet successful data programs require strong leadership, change management, and engagement with business stakeholders. More than that, they need to be thoughtful and purposeful with sponsorship, training, and communication programs. Leadership initiatives are essential for driving adoption and realizing the full potential of data investments.

Search & discovery: Accessing and understanding data are fundamental prerequisites for leveraging its value. Robust search and discovery capabilities empower users to find relevant data efficiently, enabling informed decision-making and superior data literacy.

Data literacy: Enhancing data literacy across the organization is key to unlocking the true potential of data. By fostering a culture of data literacy, organizations empower employees to interpret and utilize data effectively in their day-to-day activities. “Data literacy spans more than the data and analytics organization, and it should actually be seen as a company-wide objective,” Duce asserts.

Data governance: Establishing robust governance frameworks ensures data quality, compliance, and relevance. Effective data governance involves defining policies, documenting data assets, and monitoring metadata to maintain data integrity.

Alation's model employs a comprehensive approach to measure data maturity across the four pillars. By utilizing a statement-driven assessment process, organizations gain valuable insights into their current maturity levels and areas for improvement. Scores ranging from foundational to optimized provide organizations with actionable recommendations to enhance their data programs.

Data culture by industry

It's essential to recognize that different industries exhibit varying approaches to data maturity, influenced by regulatory requirements and competitive dynamics. For instance, heavily regulated industries like finance and healthcare prioritize governance and compliance, while agile industries like retail or media more often focus on data discovery and innovation.

“Where competition drives the habits of the organizations, they have a really good handle on data discovery and a higher degree of data literacy,” Duce elaborates. “But because governance is not driven by regulation, and leadership is not really needed as much to drive data use, they will tend to score lower in these areas.”

Understanding industry-specific nuances enables organizations to tailor their data initiatives effectively and maximize value.

Your roadmap to data culture maturity

The Alation Data Culture Maturity Model serves as a roadmap for organizations to evaluate their current data maturity levels and chart a course for progress. By setting clear goals and priorities, organizations can align their data initiatives with business objectives and drive meaningful outcomes. The model facilitates communication and collaboration across departments, ensuring a holistic approach to data maturity.

It’s critical to focus efforts on areas that align with organizational goals. Organizations can leverage the model to identify critical areas for improvement and prioritize initiatives that drive maximum impact. By concentrating efforts on areas such as leadership development or governance enhancement, organizations can accelerate their data maturity journey and realize tangible results.

Taking the time to review the DCMM gives you “the opportunity to map out how you progress and discuss with the business what is most important and what needs to be prioritized,” Duce points out. “What is that one thing that will help you move the business forward? It also gives you the content needed to communicate this with your business and the teams that will be coming on the journey with you.”

Many data projects begin without a clear path to success, creating a gap between data teams and the organization, leading to unrealized value. The DCMM addresses this by offering a framework for evaluating current maturity levels and devising future plans, particularly in conjunction with the Alation platform. It helps identify where value is generated in data use and platform utilization. It also serves as a catalyst for adoption and broader usage (see chart below).

Chart showing adoption metrics at F500 companies

The social labor of collectively evaluating your team, department, and organization’s data literacy is a critical first step in driving adoption and value. What’s more, the DCMM supports sustainable growth, in contrast with mere deployment or training events. The most successful companies move beyond deployment to focus on leadership and literacy, creating an inflection point for adoption.

Demonstrating the value of adoption is critical. This is why Alation offers embedded analytics to measure adoption and quantify business value in terms of productivity and faster insights. This approach ensures maximum returns on investments in data initiatives.

Embracing a data-driven future

The journey to data maturity is a dynamic and multifaceted endeavor that requires strategic planning, organizational alignment, and continuous improvement. By embracing the insights gleaned from the DCMM, leaders can navigate the complexities of the data landscape with confidence (Just ask Alation customer GoDaddy!) With a clear roadmap for progress and a focus on impactful initiatives, organizations can unlock the full potential of their data assets and drive sustainable business growth in an increasingly data-driven world.

Get started by taking the Data Culture Maturity Assessment today.

  • What is data culture maturity?
  • Data culture by industry
  • Your roadmap to data culture maturity
  • Embracing a data-driven future
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