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How to Get Cultural Buy-In for Your Data and Analytics Initiatives

Booking.com Director of Data Science and Analytics Guy Taylor shares his tips on scaling data and analytics initiatives from solid foundations and developing a sound data culture

Scaling data and analytics initiatives successfully can be a challenge - even for businesses with a rich data culture.  

In this week’s episode of the Business of Data Podcast, Booking.com Director of Data Science and Analytics Guy Taylor argues that scaling such initiatives successfully relies on strong data foundations, tying data and analytics initiatives to business incentives, and understanding the unique data context of your organization.

“One of the big learnings that I’ve had is that having his kind of cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all strategy really doesn't work,” Taylor says. “It’s really important to understand your current state and your current context. I think that is the thing that I’m pointing to which I hadn't fully taken into account. Context is absolutely everything.”

How Data Culture and Data Context Interact

To scale data and analytics initiatives successfully, Taylor recommends developing a data culture that focuses on breaking down traditional silos and democratizing data use.

This can be a challenge for many organizations, especially given that data contexts vary widely across industries.

“It all comes back to the culture,” Taylor explains. “In the banking environment, for example, because of the regulation and because of the way that data is really considered to be a key asset. What you see is power dynamics built up around data fiefdoms and people really wanting to hold on to control of the data.”

He continues: “What I’m seeing in the start-up culture, with its culture of high growth and rapid acceleration is the exact opposite. It’s that everybody has access, and everyone can do everything withing the regulatory frameworks that do exist.

Building on Strong Data Foundations

The work of building a strong data culture and shoring up data foundations never stops. Indeed, because the data landscape is constantly evolving so to must data culture constantly evolve.

However, striking a balance between driving value through data and analytics initiatives while continuing to build strong data foundations can be tricky.

Taylor says that communicating effectively with key stakeholders on the importance of solid foundations to the ultimate success of an initiative is imperative.

“It’s about figuring out what the incentives are. Because without aligning with those objectives, you’re dead in the water,” Taylor says. “You need to figure out what the incentives are on a business level, what the incentives at a social level, and what the incentives at a personal level and align to those.”

He concludes: “If you can figure out how you can inject your ‘how’ into their ‘why’ then you're both winning.”

Key Takeaways

  • Data culture is everything. The success, or failure, of data and analytics initiatives relies on a democratized data culture.
  • Build your data foundations. To scale initiatives successfully, data and analytics initiatives must be built on solid foundations.
  • Align your ‘how’ with their ‘why’. Demonstrating how data and analytics initiatives will achieve business goals is the best way to win support.