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Creating a data-powered culture

Dinand Tinholt

Data provides answers, but people drive change

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” The famous quote by Peter Drucker is a perfect call out here as no matter how detailed and solid your data-powered vision and strategy are if the people executing it don’t nurture the data culture then your journey is likely to fail. Becoming a data-driven organization isn’t just about data or technology, it is about transforming the way decisions are made based on deep analysis of facts rather than intuitions and emotions. Organizations are made up of individuals and the people working there determine the success of a data-driven transformation. Therefore, any transformation journey needs to have organizational culture at the root of any change it wants to affect.

The Capgemini Research Institute report on The data-powered enterprise found that a majority (75%) of data masters invest in a collaborative and innovation-driven data culture building a data-first culture.”

Companies that follow a data-powered culture not only stay resilient but thrive in disruptions. Data forms the lynchpin of their flywheel model of operations that drives customer-centricity, innovation, and adoption of advanced technologies. Data is ingrained in their DNA, guiding all decision-making and helping them be nimble, agile, and able to adapt to adversities.

But how do you successfully do that?

To build a data-first culture, we have adopted a structured approach of advocacy and adoption

In our AI & Data Activate programs for clients across the globe and industries, there is usually a technology stream to modernize a data platform, a business stream to implement use cases, an organizational/process stream to streamline data governance, and a change-management stream to support the people dimension. It is about winning the hearts and minds of all stakeholders within (and often even outside) organizations to create and/or strengthen a data-driven mindset.

Hofstede depicts an organizational culture like different layers of an onion, with values at its core and practices permeating each layer. Driving a data-driven culture within an organization starts with values. This means that data-driven decision-making within an organization should be seen as the default. This requires commitment at all levels in the organization, amplified through communication, training, and management attention. At a global consumer-products company that we worked with for many years, executives at the CxO level would not even consider proposals not underpinned by a thorough data-driven assessment, and they considered their analytical prowess a unique differentiator in the market.

After values, it is important to embed a data-driven culture in rituals which are mostly processes, meetings, and ways of working. The next layer is heroes or having champions within an organization that has adopted the new data-driven way of working. They are the key advocates that exemplify the new way of working through leading by example. These examples are supported by success stories. Hence, PR and communication play a crucial role to amplify these stories. At the outer layer of culture are symbols. Marketing and expanding the reach of a data-driven transformation means creating brand awareness within an organization, through PR management and publishing assets, images, and stories.

Finally, every layer of the culture model is permeated by practices or, simply put, what you do. Without a strong data-powered culture, evidence-based decision-making gets relegated to only a few areas of operations, and organizations fall back on tried-and-tested strategies for important decision-making.

The power of habit: Cultivating data-driven behaviors across the enterprise

For the best data-powered organizations, data has become a habit. In “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg writes about why companies and people do what they do. He looks at habits from a scientific perspective and identifies a three-step habit loop with Cues, Routines, and Rewards. Changing a habit to support culture change often focuses on changing the routines ingrained within an organization to promote a data-driven culture. Instilling new data-driven habits means creating new cues with new routines and associated rewards. To make data the cornerstone of their organization, companies need to invest across four operational pillars: people, platforms, partners, and processes. A relationship that is less transactional and more strategic between business groups and IT and BI teams would enable data to permeate the organization and become an enterprise-wide priority.

Finally, when making any change in an organization, make sure user-centricity is at the core of everything you do. Every design of a new tool or process needs to be ruthlessly user-centric. We’re all marketers and behavioral scientists. If you desire to augment decision-making with data, cognition is key. Less is more, with simplicity being the ultimate sophistication – to quote Leonardo Da Vinci.

Data success

An international consumer goods manufacturer inculcated data-powered thinking and used meaningful and relevant data from across the organization to connect closely with its one billion customers. A data incubator was set up and launched to initiate a transformation that put information and insights at the heart of all decision-making. The needs of the customers were defined. The insights and analytics supported the human decisions to improve desired outcomes, leading to demonstrable business benefits by surfacing opportunity, supporting human creativity, and increasing penetration, effectiveness, and revenues. These success stories were actively shared, champions were promoted, stories were told, and new ways of working were designed with a pure user-centric lens. Becoming more data-driven became powerful, simple to do, and a daily habit.

While every company aspires to utilize data to make better decisions consistently, many fall short due to old habits or not having a clear approach. To infuse data-powered culture in an organization’s DNA, business leaders must take a step-by-step approach to win the hearts and minds of everyone.



Data-driven decision-making within an organization should be seen as the default, accepting nothing less through all the ranks.


Recognize, profile, and support cultural role models that show a data-powered mindset in their daily work.


PR management and publishing assets, images, and stories all help to brand and market a data-powered culture.

Interesting read?

Data-powered Innovation Review | Wave 3 features 15 such articles crafted by leading Capgemini experts in data, sharing their life-long experience and vision in innovation. In addition, several articles are in collaboration with key technology partners such as Google, Snowflake, Informatica, Altair, A21 Labs, and Zelros to reimagine what’s possible. Download your copy here!