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European organisations are readily embracing data and analytics technologies to become more data driven, however there’s growing recognition that having the right culture and leadership in place is pivotal to making this work. This was one of the key takeaways from the sessions and discussions held at IDC’s recent Big Data & Analytics (BDA) conference in London.

With speakers and panelists from BT, Sainsbury’s, Graydon and the University of Derby, the conference provided plenty of real world examples of how different industries are driving value from data (including the potential regulatory consequences of expanded use). The University of Derby for instance highlighted its organization-wide data warehouse that’s used to help staff identify trends in student performance and behaviors. Whereas Graydon, a business information provider, demonstrated how its combined use of Marketing, Sales, HR and Finance data is supporting a more cohesive view of the customer journey alongside potential upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

While both examples provide compelling business use cases, they also highlighted the requirement for, and merits of, having the ‘right’ culture in place. As part of its data driven effort Graydon is focused on ensuring data is properly managed and governed and is of sufficient quality to bring about a level of trust and confidence in decision making. On the other hand, the University of Derby is focusing on front office process change with an initiative that aims to link insight to action and improve the timescales and impact of student intervention.

What methods and processes are employed to infuse a data driven culture into an organization are likely to differ depending on industry, competitive and regulatory pressures. However, one thing is clear: to remain competitive organizations need to become much smarter about how they encourage and coordinate the use and exploitation of data as part of everyday business operations. Indeed, this is in accord with IDC’s research, which has found that certain organizational/cultural factors are strong predictors of big data maturity – itself strongly correlated with analytics project outcomes.

In reality, this is often an afterthought. Our research and conversations with end user organizations, point to cases where the emphasis of BDA initiatives focuses on supporting access to data with little attention paid to articulating how data and analytics fit within the culture of the organization. Roles such as Chief Data Officers (CDOs) are changing this dynamic – by giving recognition to the growing importance of data as an organizational asset for example — however these represent a smaller minority of appointments (although regulatory pressures such as GDPR are expected to change this).

Of course, the shift towards becoming data driven ultimately needs to emanate from the top; as many at the conference agreed. Senior management for example, need to incentivize and mandate the use of data so it is accepted and fostered by the entire organisation. IDC finds that leading digital organisations are typically those that understand the value of data and can articulate how their data strategy is a key part of delivering major business initiatives, whether that’s about utilising data to craft superior customer experiences, support product or service innovation or being faster to market and more agile. While there are, many factors involved in becoming a fully-fledged data driven organisation, insights from IDC’s conference reveal it starts with a committed shift in business and cultural mindset, much before technology comes into play.

You can also watch the highlights of the Big Data and Analytics 17 conference below  –