Is trust the missing ingredient in a successful analytics strategy?


Organizations that have an analytics strategy based on cultural change, democratization, and trust will be best prepared to succeed in a post-COVID-19 environment

In our June 2020 webinar with Howard Dresner, Chief Research Officer of Dresner Advisory Services, I shared my vision for a data culture revolution against the backdrop of COVID-19. Together, we raised three critical questions:

  • How can business leaders create a data-driven culture?
  • What is the role of trust in organization-wide decision-making processes?
  • Can a unified data analytics platform encourage unity and trust?

Our analyses indicate “trusted analytics” are a critical piece of success in these areas. Companies must take steps today to advance their respective data strategies and build a culture of trust around a single data platform. But not all business leaders understand the meaning of trusted analytics, nor are they aware of the best ways to transform their organizational culture to achieve it.

In 2020, the Most Successful Companies Are Driven by Data

Recent data from Dresner Advisory Services, a leading research organization in the business intelligence (BI) field, indicates the most successful businesses are also successful in their use of data across the organization. The key, Dresner claims, is that these companies have an analytics strategy based on trust. That trust makes them best prepared to succeed in a post-COVID-19 environment.

Global companies driven by data have achieved 30% year-over-year growth on average, Forrester finds, with eight times the growth rate over the global gross domestic product (GDP). Data-driven companies reported $1.8 trillion in annual revenue, making up a sizable portion of global business income.

The more we measure, understand, and respond to the challenges we’re facing, the faster we are able to resolve future challenges as well. Analytics, specifically in a time of world crisis, is going to be an essential method for companies to face challenges that otherwise would devastate them.

In fact, organizations that are well run and are fact-based in nature have been less impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, Dresner Advisory Services has found. Organizations that did not have a fact-based culture within their organizations are at a significant disadvantage.

“It’s a sort of a wakeup call for them in many ways,” says Dresner. “It’s really important for organizations to act together in the realizing of data, the dissemination of that data, and the delivery of insights throughout the organization.”

If and when future crises like COVID-19 emerge, only companies with analytics that are trusted across the organization can successfully and precisely regroup, mitigate, and succeed—companies without a well-founded culture of analytics cannot.

Understanding the Meaning of Trusted Analytics in Decision Making

Dresner Advisory Services’ recently released report, The Hyper-Decisive Maturity Model, describes the nature of trust in data and governance as being critical for faster, better decision-making within a nine-part framework of capabilities. Without an established, organizational trust in data and analytics, the inherent trust environment breaks down, and data-driven initiatives break down with it.

Trusted analytics is therefore characterized by an entire organization aligned around a single data approach. Trusted analytics allows anyone in the organization to harness data quickly, make sense of it, and use it in a way that aligns with their roles and the overarching goals of the organization.

The question, in this case, is why trusted analytics remains so elusive for so many companies. Trust in the entire organization, Dresner describes, is often the root of the problem: “It’s a cultural issue more than anything else—it comes down to human beings and belief systems, and then being able to ensure that everyone is working from the same playbook.”

Unfortunately, building organizational trust in analytics is quite difficult; once established, that trust is always in jeopardy. But with the right business intelligence tools, leadership, and culture, success begets success. Assembling a team with the right resources and credibility and then delivering analytics across the organization allows companies to maintain the environment of trust they need to deliver on their most ambitious business objectives.

Listen to Omri discuss the role of trust in analytics with CRO of Dresner Advisory Services, Howard Dresner:

Leadership-Driven Change in Data Culture

More than ever, advanced BI platforms align with overarching goals of organizations and not individual departments. That means company leadership has an opportunity to drive this necessary cultural change and realize ROI they require as part of their responsibilities.

Increasingly, CEOs are embracing the use of data for cross-function, cross-department insights to improve decision making across the organization—even in enterprise companies. Done successfully, CEOs sit closer than ever to their CxO peers who are leading BI technology implementation in their companies.

Now, from the CxO-level perspective, there is a strong push to stop being intuitive alone and actually manage their business based on insights that come from their systems and tools. That’s what would drive us eventually to digital transformation and the decisions that will be based on trusted analytics.

The use of BI platforms can deliver a holistic view of the company even as it meets the individual needs of all the company’s business users. This ensures one system of presentation—a single source of truth—enabling the level of trust required to encourage culture change within the organization. CxOs with BI oversight, and most notably the emerging Chief Data Officer (CDO) roles companies are embracing more and more, can take charge of overarching, long-term data strategies with greater rates of success.

“In our research, we’ve seen a lot more Chief Data Officers and Chief Analytics Officers, where the most successful organizations have a CDO in place,” Dresner reports. “It requires the CEO and other CxOs to see that data is strategic to them and their future; if you believe that, if you have that vision, then you can start to make real progress, and embrace data as a cultural tenet within the organization.”

How do companies cultivate a data-driven culture?

“Culture” is broadly defined as a shared belief system—values everyone within an organization or society agrees to embrace. For decades, data culture revolved around the use of silos, where each department had its own set of tools and insights, often putting department leaders at odds with one another. CxOs can break down those barriers to help realize mutual benefits across departments, but it requires the implementation of a shared belief system. In this new system, employees and business leaders alike recognize the cross-departmental value of a democratized data platform.

“Having the CEO embrace or ‘own’ the notion of data-driven culture can set an example for the rest of the organization, allowing them to serve as consultants to other functions within the enterprise,” Dresner describes. “That’s what makes companies truly performance directed.”

Leadership embracing a cross-organization data culture has additional benefits to their own roles in that they are inherently driven by ROI and measurable business benefits. Expanding analytics to all users in the organization enhances the measurement of leadership KPIs, such as the ROI of new initiatives or technologies. With this transparency, business leaders can rationalize and accelerate cultural changes and new analytics technology adoption quickly.

The reason data-driven companies are the fastest growing in the world is that they can course-correct instantly, in real-time, in response to both positive and negative developments. These are the companies that are emerging from the COVID-19 crisis with the greatest degrees of success.

A Data Analytics Platform That Performs for All Business Users

Cultural change also hinges on the desirability of the tools driving that change within the organization. When employees use different tools from different systems, it creates roadblocks to cultural transformation and business success. Companies need a cohesive strategy and analytics platform that provides all employees with self-service capabilities, governance, a consistent experience, and a single version of the truth.

“It comes down to human beings, what we believe in, and how we feel,” says Dresner. “If we feel comfortable being transparent and being held accountable, we’re going to be able to build a data-driven, fact-based culture, and trust our fellow workers instead of being fearful.”

Pyramid Analytics is designed to deliver on this unified approach. That means providing what the organization as a whole requires so CxOs can capitalize on a massive BI investment. But doing so also requires democratizing data access—that is, centralizing data assets while decentralizing access to those same resources. Those are the platforms we’ll see in the future, where organizations standardize on a single platform. In this way, all users can access a best-of-breed tool, even without becoming a part of unnecessary applications.

Learn more about evolving data culture in your organization with a holistic, next-generation business intelligence solution—contact us for a free demonstration today.

Watch as Omri and CRO of Dresner Advisory Services, Howard Dresner, discuss the role of trust in analytics: