5 Critical Considerations for Building Data-Driven Organizations


Every organization has untapped data. How to leverage that data for better decision making and better question-asking can be the difference between good organizations and great ones; between staying ahead of competitors or not; between winning a major contract or losing out.

The journey toward building and remaining a data-driven organization can be daunting and can leave many wondering where exactly to begin. While there is no textbook answer to this question, GDIT’s experience tackling this challenge with our customers has given us a unique insight into methodologies that enable successful data analytics implementations. From this work, we’ve identified five critical considerations for organizations looking to become truly data driven.

1. Start with the Mission

It all starts with the mission. What is the mission of your organization? What do you do? How? And why does that matter for customers and the business? By zeroing in on this question you will be better able to understand which data you should prioritize collecting and assessing in order to aid you in answering – and asking – transformational questions of the business.

2. Look for Mission Impediments

Anything that stands in the way of you achieving your mission and objectives as an organization is killing you – operationally, financially, fundamentally. By better understanding what is keeping you from accomplishing your objectives you will be better able to establish mechanisms for collecting and analyzing data that helps determine if your actions are helping or hindering this process. Success doesn’t have to be complicated. You can start small and build on each success.

3. Promote Transparency

This is all about the importance of being honest about the data you find, even when it isn’t pretty. Becoming data-driven involves exposing data to a wider audience, even to your customers. Transparency is extremely powerful – because it helps identify where your issues are and where you need to focus your energy. Good data doesn’t lie, but change lies in first being transparent. Transparency also helps build trust with your customers and across the organization. It signals that you are acknowledging where there are opportunities for improvement and that you have the data that will allow you to take the right, corrective actions.

4. Be Open to Anomalies

Some of the best analytics projects uncover things that are outside what we expect. Why explore if you don’t expect to learn something new, right? From anomalies in our data, we can uncover new areas to analyze – new questions to ask – to get at the heart of some of the toughest challenges we have as organizations. Anomalies enable (and empower, and embolden) us to ask why and give us license to go after the answer. And those answers can sometimes be the most enlightening.

5. Increase the Breadth and Depth of What You Measure

Measuring multiple sources of data over a greater period can allow you to become proactive and predictive rather than reactive. Start with one function, your most important, and then build on it. After collecting multiple data points over time, you will be able to become predictive in your analysis of your challenges and take actions.

You have intelligence in your organizations that is dying to be shared to add value to the business and help you accomplish your mission’s objectives. Becoming a data-driven organization is a never-ending journey and it will not happen overnight. As you solve one challenge, others will emerge. The important thing is that you start, and as you continue to solve greater challenges your organization will be improving every step of the way.