You’re Not in a Data-Driven Culture if Either of These Two Describes Your Organization


You’re Not in a Data-Driven Culture if Either of These Two Describes Your Organization

March 1, 2022

#1. You hired data scientists because it was the Sexiest Job of the 21st Century

Back in 2012, Data Scientist was named “The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century” by Harvard Business Review.  After that, everyone wanted to become a data scientist. Can you blame them with a headline like that?

This was the beginning of a talent rush where the statisticians and data geeks were the most sought-after people by any organization. Now, if you were a data scientist, this was great! You had a pick of any job you wanted in any city. Tech companies were swooping into campuses, recruiting the best and brightest young minds who had anything to do with data. I even recall interviewing several recent grads who demanded a starting six-figure salary – remember this was about 10 yrs ago when salaries were more modest. Life couldn’t get any better for these number magicians who could play with data to support any business illusion they were asked to support.

But what were the unintended consequences this had on companies? Some employees became resentful of all the attention data scientists were getting. They doubled down on their ‘gut instinct’ and industry knowledge to challenge everything a data scientist said. Others became afraid of forming their own insights for fear of being proven wrong by the analytics experts. Whole companies would become dependent on what a data scientist would say to support their decision.

To be a data-driven company, data must be democratized. Everyone needs to have the ability to access the data and derive their own insights. If not, people will feel like they are in the dark and unable to support their work without fear of being proven wrong by the data.  The data scientist needs to be less the authority, and more the enabler, working together to help others find the right insight.


#2. You bought into the Hadoop hype to solve all your problems

Now I’m not going to say Hadoop is bad. You can read about that on your own. Hadoop can be a great framework for the right use cases. Unfortunately, there was a time when many IT, BI, or data managers felt they had to buy into Hadoop because everyone else was. FOMO is real. 

I recall being at a vendor presentation for a large BI platform that our company budgeted $1M for. I was asked by the Chief Architect what my thoughts were on this platform that was just demoed to us. As great as the platform was, my response was, “You’re selling a Ferrari to a person who doesn’t know how to drive.” That didn’t go too well.

Maybe your organization didn’t buy into Hadoop. But is there another technology that you did buy that hasn’t panned out? Do you find yourself always looking for the next best tool to unlock even more insight?

To be a data-driven company, the tools must take a backseat to the insight. Invest in your people before investing in an infrastructure that you don’t need. Teach people what insights are important that align to an organization’s goals.

Don’t worry if any of the above describes you. It’s not too late. If you don’t know where to start, contact us and we’ll work together to help you build a true data-driven culture.


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