How Cultured is Your Organization about Analytics?

Culture isn’t just in the yogurt you eat for breakfast. As Peter Drucker said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” No matter what you’re strategizing about, if you do not take your corporate culture into account, your strategy can turn into a s-tragedy.

The Analytics Mandate, a report published by MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS based on a global executive survey with over 2,000 respondents and in-depth interviews with more than 30 executives, found companies that incorporate analytics into their culture are finding success in the new digital era. In fact, the research showed that an analytic culture was the most influential factor in success, outweighing other analytics-related factors such as data management technologies and skills.

The report defined an analytics culture as one that unites business and technology around a common goal through a specific set of behaviors (e.g., pressure from senior management to become more data-driven and analytical), values (e.g., data is treated as a core asset), decision-making norms (e.g., organizational openness to new ideas and approaches that challenge current practices), and outcomes (e.g,. analytics changes the way business is conducted).

In the video Advocating for Analytics Culture, recorded at the 2014 SAS Global Forum Executive Conference, analytics executives, business experts, and SAS insiders explored what it means to build an analytics culture. “Many times the analytic result,” explained Mark Pitts, Senior Vice President of Analytics at SourceHOV, “turns out to be something that’s contrary to the highest paid person’s opinion. And so you need managers who are willing to listen to what the data is telling them, to what their data scientists are telling them, and change the way they manage based on a data-driven approach.” Kimberly Nevala, Director of Business Strategy for SAS Best Practices, remarked that “when you think about iconic companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft, love them or hate them, when we talk about what makes them successful, culture is always a part of that conversation. Some of the key attributes of an analytics culture are the willingness to experiment and challenge the status quo, and the willingness to follow where the data leads.”

Analyze Your Culture

As posited in my previous post, an analytics culture makes an organization ready to be swayed by new evidence and willing to execute on actionable business insights. Analyze your culture by answering these five questions from the aforementioned survey:

  1. Is your organization open to new ideas that challenge current practices? 
  2. Does your organization view data as a core asset? 
  3. Is senior management driving your organization to become more data-driven and analytical? 
  4. Is your organization using analytical insights to guide strategy? 
  5. Is your organization willing to let analytics help change the way you do business?

This post is brought to you by SAS.