How to close the data understanding gap in your organization

Organizations can no longer afford to ignore the benefits of using data and analytics to make decisions and guide strategies. While many companies are collecting data and hiring data teams, not every company is making the most of its data and implementing it to its full potential. Why is this? A big reason is the data understanding gap that is present in many organizations.

While data teams know how to work with data, the same can’t always be said for the rest of the organization. To make the most of data, organizations should prioritize data literacy and democratization. This means implementing a plan to help everyone in the organization understand how to use data and ensuring everyone has easy access to the data they need.

When everyone in your organization can understand data and work with it, you empower data-driven decisions and efficiency. However, this is always easier said than done. To commit to closing the data understanding gap, you need to have the right plan in place. In today’s article, we’ll go over some tips to help everyone in your organization understand data.

These Tips Will Help Everyone in Your Org Better Understand Data

Data literacy, democratization and understanding are ongoing processes. You can’t just hand your employees a quick guide on understanding data and hope it sticks. Processes and strategies have to be implemented, and continual training is needed. While this sounds like a lot of work, it will actually help your organization run better in the long run. Your employees won’t always have to rely on the data team to answer their questions and fulfill their requests, the data team can focus on more important work and all of your employees will be empowered to unleash the power of the company data you spend time and money to collect.

So where do you begin? We’ve compiled six tips for you to start with.

1. Break Down Barriers

The first step is to make data less intimidating for all of your employees. Access to company data should be intuitive instead of requiring employees to jump through multiple hoops to get the data they need right away. When everyone is relying on the data team to fulfill data requests, you get bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

Let your employees know that you’re focused on improving data understanding. Lay out your plan and tell them how you’ll be implementing it. This will help your employees ease into the idea of using data and understanding it in their everyday workflows. 

To do this properly, you’ll need to assess data literacy on an individual and departmental basis. How prepared are your employees to use data? You might be surprised to learn that your company is more data literate than you assumed but they just didn’t have the tools necessary to access it. Or perhaps they didn’t feel like they were empowered to use it without turning to the data team.

Once you’ve assessed data literacy, you decide on what level of data literacy is optimal for each department. This will help you make a training program to guide these teams and bring them to the next level.

2. Create a Data Dictionary

When you’re trying to spread data understanding throughout your organization, it’s important that everyone is on the same page. That’s why it’s essential to create a data dictionary. A data dictionary defines and names different elements in your company data and what data represents. This provides everyone with a frame of reference for talking about and analyzing data. A data dictionary helps to foster collaboration and communication about data because everyone has the same interpretation of different data elements. It helps to curb inconsistencies, misunderstandings and inefficiencies when it comes to sharing data.

A data dictionary also provides guidance on data reporting and formatting and helps to define relationships with other data in your data warehouse. The last thing you want is for there to be miscommunication and misunderstanding when you’re trying to close the data gap in your organization.

3. Educate Non-technical Teams

As we mentioned in the first step, you’ll need to break down barriers when closing the data understanding gap. That means taking the time to educate employees and teams who are non-technical. Technical users may take to data understanding quickly, but you’ll likely need a different approach for non-technical teams. You should always keep your audience in mind when developing training plans.

If this means you need to create a separate training plan for non-technical users, then you should be sure to do this. You should also foster an educational environment and encourage these non-technical users to ask questions and be curious about using data. If everyone is learning to use data, it can only benefit your organization. It’s just as important to educate non-technical teams as it is to increase literacy and understanding in other departments.

4. Support Your Data Team’s Needs

Throughout this process, the last thing you should do is neglect the data team. The data team will be integral to helping you close the data understanding gap in your organization. Implementing data education and new tools is going to add some work to the data team’s plate. Be sure you’re supporting them and providing them with everything they need to make implementation go as smoothly as possible.

From the beginning, you should loop the data team in and get their thoughts and feedback on closing the data understanding gap. They’re already familiar with all the data processes and the data needs of each team. They’ll be able to help you come up with a plan to increase data knowledge and literacy. They’ll also know what’s needed to improve their department and allow them to better serve your organization after you implement your data literacy and democratization strategies.

5. Use a Modern Data Catalog Tool

It can be incredibly helpful to implement a modern data catalog tool in your data stack during this transition. A data catalog tool like Secoda is built to help everyone in your organization access and understand data. With an intuitive platform, your employees will find it easier to work with and use data. It will be much more difficult to close the understanding gap if you have obtuse, overly technical tools in place. 

Tools like Secoda combine your data dictionary, data catalog, data requests, data docs search and data management compliance in one platform, making it easy for anyone to access. Also, Secoda provides your teams with an easy data search tool that makes all of your company data searchable. It’s as simple as using a search engine like Google, and it empowers every member of your organization to make more data-driven decisions. You can save a lot of time in the data understanding process by implementing the right tool early on.

6. Create Helpful Resources

Make sure your teams have helpful resources they can turn to when they need assistance. Data literacy and democratization don’t just happen immediately. This process takes time, commitment and continued education. With the right resources, your team can stay up to date with best practices and continually learn how to make the most of your company data.

It’s important to let your team know where these resources can be found and ensure that everyone has quick and easy access. Be sure to reiterate the fact that data understanding is an ongoing process. You should continually update these resources and schedule regular training sessions so your employees can stay up to date with any new processes or strategies you implement.

Why Is There Often a Data Disconnect Across Organizations?

We know that data disconnect isn’t ideal. So why is it so common in many organizations? Although many companies have been using data for a while now, it’s not always a skill that employees have when joining an organization. Maybe in the future it will be a common skill, but until then, leaders need to overcome the data disconnect through data training and tools. It also helps to know what obstacles are common to data understanding, such as the following.

  • Data silos: Data silos occur when data is isolated to one data repository or one part of an organization, making it inaccessible to other teams and departments. This can cause inconsistencies and duplicate data, or it can cause teams to miss out on important information entirely when making data-driven decisions. Data silos can be overcome with the right tools that catalog your data and consolidate it in one secure location.
  • Lack of access: When employees can’t access the data they need, it causes inefficiencies and prevents users from making data-driven decisions on their own. That doesn’t mean that every employee should have access to absolutely every piece of data, but they should be able to access the data they need. This challenge can be overcome with proper data governance.
  • Lack of data quality: Companies can collect a lot of data, but it’s important that data is managed to ensure integrity and quality. This can get neglected when data teams are tied up with data request bottlenecks and other time-consuming tasks. When you implement self-service analytics and data literacy, you can free up your data team to concentrate on data quality, security and governance.
  • Data tools: Data tools are constantly evolving, and organizations can get used to outdated or obsolete tools. It’s important to reassess your data stack on a regular basis and make sure it’s providing your team with the tools and features they need to access, understand and use data in their daily processes.

The data understanding gap can be complicated to close, but it’s not impossible. If you’re looking for a tool to help your team make the most of your company data, Secoda is your solution.

Try Secoda for Free

Secoda is a data catalog tool that makes it easier for your teams to search, access and understand data. Data discovery is intuitive when using Secoda, even for non-technical users. With our platform, you can consolidate all of your organization's data knowledge in one secure place. This eliminates data silos and inconsistencies while also making your data easily searchable. Users can find the data they need as quickly as they can do a Google search.

In short, Secoda gives you everything you need to start closing the data understanding gap. Your team will feel more empowered than ever to use company data without always having to rely on the data team. Ready to learn more and see how Secoda can help your organization? Try our platform for free today!