For an organization to become data-driven, everyone within that organization first needs to become data-literate.
That’s because a data-literate culture is what enables a business as a whole to react quickly—and intelligently—to changes in the marketplace. And in a post-COVID world, no organization holds a greater competitive advantage than the one that can adjust to change on the fly and with speed.
Many business leaders understand this. But not all organizations are positioned in such a way. At least, not yet.
Building data literacy takes time. But it also takes having a plan, like the following three-step approach Domo customer University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (aka UPMC) created and implemented—and is now reaping the benefits of.
1 – Take inventory of what data is currently being used, and by whom
We’ve all heard the term “familiarity breeds acceptance.” It’s usually used to describe what it takes for a person or party to overcome some kind of barrier to liking or understanding another person or party.
But the expression also works in the world of data. Because when it comes to getting people to engage with data, familiarity is, in fact, crucial.
“People have got to recognize and be comfortable with the data you’re going to present to them,” said Jake Collins, UPMC’s director of marketing intelligence. “Otherwise, you’ll struggle to even get the initiative off the ground.”
Starting with data that is already being used by the majority of the organization also makes it easier to build a foundational element of data-driven cultures: dashboards that answer all manner of questions and lead to better decisions.
At UPMC, a key marketing tool is its “Campaigns Overview” dashboard, which allows any of its clinical marketing managers to see how each and every marketing campaign is performing.
“Even though campaigns are different,” Jake said, “the way in which we talk about and share data is similar. This helps those managers who have a wide variety of things built into their jobs to feel more confident about what they’re looking at, because it’s always provided in a consistent way.”
2 – Understand the 3 types of data users that likely exist within your organization
Just as everyone’s roles within an organization are different, so too are the ways in which people consume and leverage data.
But the way UPMC’s April Weitzel sees it, there are three main user groups within any organization:
- Data presenter, who must present to leadership on a regular basis—and therefore understand what the data they’re presenting means, and be confident in how to look at and use the dashboards they rely on for those presentations.
- Self-server, who prefers to access their data in real-time instead of waiting for it to be presented to them. In this case, the dashboard needs to have mobile-first capabilities—because often times this person is on their phone or in meetings—and an abundance of filters so the self-server can isolate data.
- Power user, who is typically a subject matter expert (SME) with command of their data and how to use it to impact business outcomes. For them, macro and micro visualizations are key, because it’s especially important for them to be able to access trending information that is actionable.
In order to develop a culture that is data-driven from top to bottom, each group must be accounted for and catered to.
“It’s OK to build a one-stop shop—that’s basically what a dashboard is—but you can’t build from a ‘one size fits all’ standpoint,” said April, who serves as UPMC’s senior manager of analytics. “You must align BI efforts with the needs of multiple audiences, because you have to make sure what you are building provides answers to the questions everyone has.”
3 – Foster data literacy among each type of user group
Finally, once all types of user groups are engaging with data, it’s important to create and offer avenues for them to become even more comfortable interacting with data.
This is best accomplished through the provision of various training opportunities, the scheduling of regular meetings on what’s working and what isn’t, and the frequent delivery of information related to dashboard or product enhancements.
UPMC tackles this particular process by keeping a campaign measurement worksheet—which tracks who the campaign owner is, what the budget is, what the time frame is, and who the audience is—and conducting project retrospectives, which allow team members to see what went well and what went poorly, and to test new hypotheses.
“Data literacy cannot be achieved if change-management and alignment processes aren’t taken into consideration as well,” Jake said. “They’re what allow you to learn from one another, to address any issues people are seeing, to build accountability, and, ultimately, to make the organization better.
“When everyone is looking at the same data and trying to determine what the right path forward is, you’re going to get much better results.”