At the second annual Analytics Unleashed, Adele Pugliese, vice president of data enablement and analytics at BentallGreenOak, and Ima Okonny, chief data officer at Employment and Social Development Canada, spoke about building an effective data driven culture.
A data driven culture can be defined as a workforce that uses analytics and statistics to optimize their processes and accomplish their tasks.
Okonny shared her experience achieving a data driven culture at a government level.
“We need to bring the entire organization along. Whether you’re working on the front line or busy doing policy programs operations, you need to be on that data journey.”
She said organizations need a data strategy that speaks to the goals of the businesses while also addressing the shifts and uncertainties that occur within government organizations.
Pugliese added that establishing a strategy is key.
“One of the things that I’ve learned when you’re striving to achieve a culture of data, is really starting to understand the capability of where your starting point is,” she said. “Once you establish the strategy, which is so important because that’s what connects the business to the data and helps you inform the prioritization of the data, otherwise, it just becomes so overwhelming.”
Both speakers noted that the road to a data driven culture within an organization looks different for every business. It has to align exactly with the company—and that requires speaking with everyone in the workplace and understanding how they operate.
Okonny said that working with her Human Resources colleagues, who are experts in delivering programs and training across the organization, helped form this culture.
“It’s one thing to look at data from a purely technical perspective. But if you really want to drive the data-driven and the data enabled culture across the organization, you cannot do that in the silo of data. You cannot do it by sitting in an IT shop. You need to leave that zone and go and talk with people across the organization.”
For example, she said, data can be used to deliver services to people who are most at risk, but it can also disclose some information that shouldn’t be out there.
“Within my organization we take that very seriously, and we’ve actually rolled out a data governance and stewardship program which spans across the organization, and the goal of this is really getting the people across the organization involved in a way that’s very practical and concrete.”
Pugliese also emphasized the importance of managing the risk of data, and understanding what that is to an organization, and at what point you need certain controls.
She said understanding how to use the data, and understanding the impacts, will help organizations form their culture even more.
Okonny added that it’s vital for organizations to be representative of the population they serve, because it will help with mitigating data bias, ensuring that data is being used to drive and improve services.
“Lots of good can be done with data. But as we said earlier it’s important to ensure that you evaluate what you’re doing on an ongoing basis, and include by default to make sure that you’re considering perspectives of people who might not necessarily look like you.”