Creating a Data-Driven Culture

Data has been a hot top for a number of years and, with GDPR looming, it will continue to be a top priority for businesses. Much focus has been placed on wrangling big data and creating a single view of the customer - but real change comes from building a data-driven culture.

During Effectiveness Week back in November 2016, the DMA held a “Creating a Data Culture” to discuss the merits and challenges of building effective data-driven cultures. VerveIQ was asked to weigh in on how agencies, brands and startups are building effective data cultures to help drive growth – and what they might learn from each other’s approaches. Here's what we covered.



Building an effective data-driven culture is fundamentally difficult for most companies.

A recent study by CMO Council revealed that 35% of marketers have a data strategy but it’s not embraced by the entire team. 43% said it was too hard to get the entire organisation to agree on a data strategy. 23% said they have no data strategy in place.



Organisations of all sizes must overcome many challenges on their path to a data-driven culture; from data silos, to lack of analytical tools and resources.

Despite proven benefits, such as increased revenues and reduced operating costs, many companies still struggle to make meaningful progress. A recent Aberdeen Group report, highlights that 44% of executives remain dissatisfied with their analytic capabilities leaving them to make critical decisions based on inaccurate or inadequate data. 



Effective data-driven cultures are as much, if not more, about people as they are about data. Companies that have successfully nurtured a data-driven culture often benefit from improved employee understanding of the value of data and how to apply it to decision-making, as well as commitment to backing ideas up with data and measuring outcomes across the board.

Data-driven cultures typically have five things in common:

  1. Data-oriented mindsets and to processes to support (and use) KPIs
  2. Data is up-to-date, organised and centralised
  3. Formal policies that govern data access
  4. Data access is widely available but layered
  5. Analytics are integrated into innovative and intuitive tool



How can building a data-driven culture help each of these types of organisations drive growth?

AGENCIES: Digital agencies are leading the way in bringing their data scientists and creative teams together to humanise the data and address complex client challenges. DigitasLBi's Chief Creative Officer, Chris Clarke, talked about this approach at Cannes way back in 2015.

BRANDS: Big brands run on data - senior managers need information at their fingers to inform everyday decision-making as well as strategic planning. Creating a data-driven culture requires exec-level sponsorship , champions across the business (and not just in the analytics team) and a coordinated approach to collecting, sharing and using data.

STARTUPS: Intuition is highly valued in early-stage, founder-led businesses but data still plays an important role in growth. Startups that value data make better marketing investments, gaining traction and early-stage growth more easily. 

For any type of organisations, one of the biggest challenges to adopting a organisation-wide, data-driven culture is 'breaking the silos' that exist.

Unencumbered by complex organisational structures and entrenched departments, startups can lead the way but must be careful to not fall into the “silo trap”.

Many brands are going through business transformation - perhaps even reorganising their marketing departments to be customer-centric. Agencies too are transforming their capabilities and service offerings to keep pace with client's challenges.

Both types of organisation have a real opportunity to break the silos that exist in their businesses by bringing together areas of expertise and align them under common goals. Support this with a dedicated change management programme, shared objectives and KPIs (data!!) are critical success factors.



A data culture leverages an organisation’s two greatest assets; its people and its data.

Culture change takes time, so be patient. Focus first on data that supports decision making and improving performance. Find champions in the business that can demonstrate the value of data and drive quick wins.

Humanise the data - people need to see how it is benefiting them personally, as well as the company, in order to buy into it and drive real change. 

Good luck!

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