Creating a data culture: pt 3 | Technical foundation

Brian LaFaille, Global Head of Looker Customer Success Strategic Programs, Google Cloud

Sep 15, 2020

This is the third piece in our five-part series on increasing widespread self-service data adoption across your enterprise. In the first section, we looked at the challenges of becoming a data-driven company. In the second, we talked about the importance of executive alignment. In this post, we’ll look at the essential component that’s needed to establish the foundation for the transition to widespread self-service data adoption: the technology.

Without the technical foundation, self-service analytics and data culture simply can’t exist within a business. The technology required for a data-driven transformation needs to aggregate all source data in a single repository so that it can be presented in an understandable way to decision makers. This way, organizational leaders can use it to steer the company based on what the analysis is telling them.

Why a self-service analytics platform is so important

Powering this cultural shift is your self-serve analytics platform. As a critical, foundational element to this shift, the platform should be easy to use and powerful enough for deep analysis of the data in your centralized data warehouse. The ultimate data analytics platform for a data driven company is one that is:

  • Built on a modern web-based architecture
  • Supports developer-like workflows
  • Allows non-technical employees to use, understand, and take action on data

With the right data analytics platform in place, getting people on board should gradually become easier as employees begin to see the value in being able to explore the company’s treasure trove of data. In just a short period of time, teams will begin to find patterns and insights that lead them to taking data-driven actions, which they’ll share with others and thus continue shifting the company culture.

Additionally, as employees access and analyze data that pertains to their jobs, they may discover more efficient ways of performing a daily task because of the visibility the analytics platform provides them. More data visibility may also give individuals new ideas about how to interact with customers in ways that add value to the business-customer relationship.

Choosing the right data analytics platform for your business

With so much potential for cultural growth with data, it’s easy to understand why having an analytics platform is an important part of the technological foundation needed for any data-driven transformation. But before you can realize the benefits of having a powerful data analytics platform, you first have to find one.

Today, there are numerous data analytics platforms to choose from, so it’s understandable that even evaluating platforms can be daunting. Luckily, with this increase in available options, there’s also been an increase in use cases and information about the various components of analytics offerings.

Here are a few key things you should look for when choosing one for your company.

Usability

Your data analytics platform is only as useful as the insights it provides. If it is too difficult to use, employees will be reluctant to even try it, and some are likely to give up after the first login. The easier it is to use, the more people will adopt and the better it will be for your company’s data-driven growth. This is what makes modern-web based platforms key for organizations looking to create and grow a self-service analytics culture. By having analytics available where employees work the most -- in web browsers -- driving data adoption won’t require changing their established workflows.

Usefulness

When it comes to data analytics, the goal is to be able to use insights to improve your work processes, make the business more efficient, attract customers, and ultimately, increase revenue. The platform you select needs to provide you with accurate and understandable data so you can instantly use insights to improve your operations.

Support

Wading into the world of business data is exciting, but it can also be confusing and daunting at times. That’s why the platform you decide on should come with an excellent support and training system. Inevitably, there will come a time when a particularly tricky business analytics problem will require help. When these instances arise, you want to be certain that your needs can be met with the resources, training, and support necessary to overcome the issue and continue moving forward.

Scalability

As your organization scales, your platform should scale with your business. Despite the size of your organization today, ask yourself - will this analytics platform be able to scale with the number of users (both internal and external) the business projects in 24 to 36 months time? When evaluating platforms for your organization, you want to be able to answer yes to that question, so you can indeed have a solution that is suitable for your size and needs today as well as into the future as your business scales and demand increases.

Security

You can never be too careful when it comes to online security, particularly around sensitive business data. When introducing a new tool to your business, you want to make sure it does not introduce any security weaknesses that may jeopardize your company or customers’ private information, which is why security certifications for the vendor you choose are critical. Review the certifications a provider has earned as you look for platforms so you can evaluate the level of trust choosing that vendor will give you when it comes to protecting your company’s sensitive business data.

Insightful analyst and peer reviews

To help you decide on a platform that makes the most sense for your company, read reviews from reputable sources like G2 and Gartner to get a better understanding of the options available to you and how they rank against other offerings. Talking to your peers about the platforms they use is also another great way to gain valuable information as you’re evaluating. Read as much as you can, whittle down your list to a shortlist of potential platforms, and consider running a few trials or demos of the platforms to assist in your decision.

By taking the time to consider these key factors before deciding on the analytics platform that’s right for your organization, you’re ensuring that the technological foundation necessary for creating a data-driven culture is solid and can support you today and as you scale.

In our next installment, we will look at the importance of your analytics launch approach, including launch type, communications, and training.

Next Previous

Subscribe for the latest posts