Companies need to be more focused on data collaborations to drive digital transformation. Source: Shutterstock

Companies need to be more focused on data collaborations to drive digital transformation. Source: Shutterstock

What are the key success factors for modern data-driven companies?

BUSINESSES today recognize the importance of data and the insights it can bring.

However, simply possessing terabytes of data or building a fantastic data team isn’t enough to harness the full potential of the organization’s data repositories. To thrive as a data-driven company, organizations need to build cross-functional teams and foster collaboration across all departments and functionalities.

A culture of collaborations will not take form if businesses don’t drive it forward. Mechanisms and activities that require and support these collaborations must be created intentionally.

A good example of where these efforts must take place is in building a solid data infrastructure. To put a  good data infrastructure in place requires team effort, with the data and IT team on the front lines.

Together, they have to sift through the deluge of data and determine its relevance to the business, its goals and objectives, ensuring that only quality data is used in analytics.

Bearing this in mind, if there is not intentional fostering of collaborative work between the departments, the organization will suffer a severe blow.

Further, a prominent stumbling block in a company’s quest to foster collaboration is the silo mentality.

Silos are detrimental — in fact, some experts believe they’re a self-perpetuating problem. Silos occur when there are barriers that prevent the interdepartmental sharing of information, often leading to departmental isolation.

Instead of cultivating an ecosystem where collaborations thrive, silos foster resentment, which feeds back into the cycle of distrust between employees.

To prevent silos, business leaders must break down walls, and bring people together.

This can be done by setting clear organizational objectives, and making it a point to routinely host meetings with cross-functional teams. Of course, discipline is required in the early days. However, these efforts will not be in vain — they’ll build the habit of driving collaborative conversations between employees.

For a culture of collaboration across departments to be sustainable, organizations would also have to look into using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as an avenue to bring teams together. KPIs are measurements of progress with regard to a specific goal. If designed correctly, they help businesses optimize performance and operations.

However, KPIs are only useful if metrics used are measurable and add value to the corresponding goals.

If an organization wishes to change the culture of their businesses by fostering collaborations, they must rethink and redesign their KPIs. With relevant and well-defined KPIs, insights can be provided around an organization’s ability to work together, and also provide insights about what improvements are needed.

Finally, business owners must acknowledge that if a change needs to occur, it should trickle down from the top.

Often, employee actions reflect conflicts that occur in the leadership team. Once leaders recognize that there is a lack of cross-functional solutions among employees, they should first look inwards and rectify any problems that might hinder collaborations within the leadership team itself.

It is only after they are able to solve these issues that they might be able to come up with long term solutions that are scalable, realistic and effective for employees.

Organizations that want to avoid hindering their use of data need to, therefore, pay attention to building cross-functional teams and driving collaboration as the first step to success.