Monday, March 14, 2016

Influencing Change Using Data

As part of the third post in the series "Enabling Data Driven Organizations", the focus of this post is about how to influence change within your "data driven" organization.  In the previous posts in this series we focused on exposing the current inventory of data objects and then understanding the value that provides.  Now that we know the value of the inventory, we need to influence change in how the rest of the organization utilizes this information.

First, I want to focus on who within the organization can utilize the value of knowing the data inventory:

Data Engineer

On a daily basis, Data Engineers are responsible for the flow of data and "building data".  As part of this responsibility, one of the challenges they encounter is understanding where data is sourced from.  A Data Discovery Search and Data Lineage are 2 values that will change how they work.

Data Analyst

On a daily basis, Data Analysts are responsible for utilizing data to present via reporting or standard analysis.  They need to quickly identify if this analysis or report already exists.  A Data Discovery Search and simple inventory reports will change how they work.

Data Scientist

On a daily basis, Data Scientists are responsible for finding new ways to use data and provide complex analysis.  Like Data Engineers, a Data Discovery Search and Data Lineage are 2 values that will change how they work.

System Owners

On a daily basis, System Owners are responsible for maintaining a reliable system like a database or reporting system.  With that responsibility, they need to understand what is used (and not used) as well as impact analysis (downstream) to other systems.  Data Linage (downstream) and Inventory Reporting are 2 values that will change how they work.
Data Consumer

On a daily basis, many individuals in your company are data consumers.  They can be executives which review dashboards or your business analyst tracking their progress.  With companies having multiple systems, a Data Discovery Search across platforms will change how they work.

Now that we have identified who can benefit from exposed data inventory, the next question is how to influence changing how they work.  This can be approached in multiple ways and can be a touchy subject.  How I would suggest to approach this is:

  • Advertise Capabilities - One of the biggest barriers to change is being unaware.  Informed people within the organization often will utilize tools that make them more productive.  If they are more productive than their peer, this rivalry will drive efficiencies.  This can be done through written communication or presentations.
  • Celebrate Success Stories - When a product is built, it is often built with use cases in mind.  Whether these are planned use cases or not, the early adopters that find success should be celebrated and communicated.  Similar to advertising capabilities, this showcases to the rest of the organization the value that people are already utilizing the product.
  • Encourage Change - As you see opportunities of how work has "always been done", offer your wisdom, information, and data to help solve these problems.  This could be decommissioning a table and understanding the impact.  This could be cleaning up a system by understanding what is used vs. not.  Offering the information to help solve problems faster, word will spread and people will follow in the future. 
  • Other Communication Channels - Find the other forms of communication channels that catch attention of the people within the organization.  This could be leadership communication, mass email blasting, flyers, or whatever else that may effective.

This step in making a "data driven organization", will be a challenging one but one that can gain traction quickly if done right.  Identifying who can gain value and educating them through the process will influence the desired change.