The expert playbook to building a data-driven organization

We live in a time where data is as crucial as capital. At MDS Fest 2.0, we're dedicating a comprehensive track to one of the most discussed topics in the space: becoming and thriving as a data-driven organization. Get your free tickets at
Last updated
May 2, 2024

We live in a time where data is as crucial as capital, which is why MDS Fest dedicates a comprehensive track to one of the most discussed topics in the space: becoming and thriving as a data-driven organization.

What is a data-driven organization?

When you're a data-driven organization, you're using data to guide your big decisions. You're constantly digging into the numbers to figure out the best moves, improve how things work, and push your business to grow. Think of data as your secret sauce - you're investing in the latest tech to gather and mix all that valuable info, seeing perks like smarter decisions, rapid innovations, and a better experience for your customers.

How can you implement a data-driven culture at your organization?

Building an organization that values data isn't just about the tech; it's about getting everyone on board with thinking data-first, and establishing a healthy data culture. It's about building skills, getting everyone excited about using data in their decisions, making sure your users are data literate,, and having leaders who understand the value of data and champion the culture.

Many of us are working towards establishing a stronger data culture at our organizations, with the ultimate goal of making data something everyone can use and trust across the board, regardless of their technical ability.

This core track of data-driven organizations is tailored for data professionals eager to unlock the full potential of their data across all facets of their operations, from product development and marketing to finance and operations. Hear from speakers who are building data-driven culture at their organizations everyday.

Not sure which sessions to attend? We’ve got a rundown of all of the speaker sessions on data-driven organizations to make things a little bit easier for you.

For free access to these talks and more, visit

See more about our other tracks and speakers in articles on our blog:

Lessons learned: data governance in a data mesh

A talk by: Tiankai Feng , Principal Data Consultant, Thoughtworks

Date: April 8, 9:30AM ET

Decentralized domains and data products - the data mesh promises scalable data value generation but stands in contrast to traditional centralized data governance. Tiankai learned a lot from his journey both as data governance leader on the client side, as well as now through his role as a data consultant, and is sharing his learnings on best practices of governing the data mesh effectively.

Decision science: make better decisions with an easy 5-step process

A talk by: Matthew Brandt , Decision Engineer, Well Gesundheit AG

Date: April 8, 11:30AM ET

It's easy to do an analysis and sit back and watch stakeholders take it away - without tracking its impact. Organisations aim to be “data-driven” but never truly question the purpose of why data is collected in the first place: to make better decisions. So how do we know what a good decision looks like and furthermore, how can we be certain we took the "right" one?

Join Matthew for a journey through a simple but powerful 5-Step process named Prime Route, with concrete examples and most importantly, an interactive exercise to apply this to your business.

AI > BI: driving decision making with numbers not dashboards

A talk by: Gabi Steele , CEO, Preql

Date: April 8, 12:30PM ET

Join Gabi for a talk is centred on discussing ways to influence business teams by offering them governed access to data instead of merely allowing them to request new dashboards. We’ll emphasize the importance of empowering teams with direct access to metrics and figures under a controlled environment, which allows them to make informed decisions without the need to wait for new dashboard creations.

An Unlikely Hero: The story of data at HourWork

A talk by: Zack Ober, Analytics Lead, HourWork

Date: April 8, 2:30PM ET

The story of data at HourWork is a hero's journey. My task was to build a "Modern Data Stack" and a data-driven culture. I walked into a situation with source data issues and no ability to fix them upstream. Most decisions at the company were sales-driven. Most people at the company had no idea what "analytics engineering" was. It was a data professional's nightmare. It's been nearly two years since I started. Not only has data become essential to our organization, it is now our main value proposition to our customers. So what happened? I will share this story along with what I learned about providing business value and influence. This is not a glamorous story. Just people working together, with data, to provide value to customers.

Welcome to data driving school: 5 tips for being data-driven from helping hundreds of companies set up their BI tool

A talk by: Katie Hindson, Head of Product & Data, Lightdash

Date: April 9, 9:30AM ET

Successfully integrating a BI tool plays a huge role in becoming a "data driven" company. For the past 3.5 years, Katie has been helping hundreds of customers set up their BI tool (Lightdash) to help them become more data driven. So, for the past 3.5 years, she has been training as a data driving instructor. Finally, Katie has decided to share some of her favourite lessons from data driving school with a wider audience. Because, they're not just applicable to Lightdash, they're applicable to anyone working in data.

This talk is aimed at anyone who is working in data and wants to improve their data adoption, or who is building data infrastructure at a company from scratch and wants to start on the right track. So, buckle up and get ready for your first lesson in Data Driving School!

How marketers at The Zebra self-serve from the data warehouse

A talk by: Cynthia Caridad, Director of Lifecycle, The Zebra

Date: April 9, 10:30AM ET

Intended audience: marketers, and the data teams that enable them. Cynthia is sharing how The Zebra has brought the Modern Data Stack to their marketers. Historically, the biggest blocker for marketing teams was data accessibility: the data team couldn’t keep up with their demands, so it could take months to get new data to drive campaigns.

The Zebra implemented a Composable CDP with Snowflake and Hightouch, and worked hard to fundamentally change their data culture. The marketing team is now fully data-literate and can self-serve - join Cynthia’s talk to learn how they did it.

Information incentives, gossip, and misrepresentation

A talk by: Christopher Berry, COO, Source

Date: April 9, 11:00AM ET

Christopher will argue that incentives, beliefs, and stances, built into the business strategy and the fabric of an organization itself, and reinforced within the Orientation stage of John Boyd’s OODA Loop, are at the root of the suffering of so many fantastic data engineers, data scientists, management scientists, (and even the baffled COO!). He’ll explain a few reasons why this state of affairs persists, argue that data based leadership orientation ought to generate a sustainable competitive advantage over the deluded alternative, and recommend five actions for ameliorating your own suffering.

Your baby is ugly: how to build lineage that is easy to use and easy on the eyes

A talk by: Lindsay Murphy, Head of Data, Secoda

Date: April 9, 11:30AM ET

Data lineage can be one of the most valuable tools in your toolbox when it comes to scaling and maintaining a highly performant data stack. But lineage can be a tough thing to scale. The more assets you add, the more dependencies have to be connected, and things can get confusing–fast.

This problem gets worse when teams build their infrastructure without lineage in mind. All of the hard work you put into building your beautiful stack–actually turns out to be a horrid mess (your is ugly).

In this session, Lindsay will break down methods for building modularity and layers in your dbt project, to ensure you don't have a nasty surprise when you connect to a column-level lineage tool like Secoda.

How data-driven companies plan

A talk by: Abhi Sivasailam, CEO, Levers Labs

Date: April 10, 11:00AM ET

Planning cycles are the most important ritual that the most data-driven companies get right. When data teams own or drive these cycles, they directly influence the "operating system" of how the company runs. In this talk, we'll discuss how best-in-class companies plan using data, the role of data teams in these cycles, and how any data team can set themselves and their company up for running more robust planning cycles. We'll ground the conversation with case studies from three companies of different sizes (SMB, MM, Public ENT) at different levels of data maturity that implemented the lessons from this talk and realized tangible results.

Developing an Apache superset application for 60k users

A talk by: Christophe Blefari, Staff Data Engineer,

Date: April 10, 11:30AM ET

In this presentation Christopher will showcase tips to developed a large Apache Superset application with tens of interactive dashboards and custom visualisation. This session might be for users already knowing Superset but also for people not familiar with it. It'll be mainly conceptual but there will be some code to explain a few concepts.

Data career roadmap strategies: A what not to do guide

A talk by: Jes Carney, Manager, Data Engineering, Brooklyn Data Co. (a Velir company)

Date: April 10, 12:30PM ET

A no-nonsense discussion on navigating the data career landscape, drawing from firsthand experiences mentoring data teams in both enterprise and start-up companies. This talk cuts through the complexity to offer a clear, what-not-to-do guide for aspiring and established data professionals alike. Learn from the missteps and successes encountered on the road to building rewarding careers in data. We'll focus on practical advice for developing essential skills, avoiding typical career pitfalls, and maintaining your drive in the fast-paced world of data.

BI in the age of AI

A talk by: Ryan Dolley, VP of Product Strategy, GoodData / Super Data Brothers

Date: April 11, 9:30AM ET

Business Intelligence is at an inflection point, as the recent focus of BI - building visualizations and dashboards to answer questions - is poised to be augmented and eventually replace by AI. So is BI going away? In this session Ryan will explore the history of BI and analytics and show how the BI techniques of a previous generation - metrics management, data modeling and last-mile ETL - point the way forward with AI augmented BI. The audience is data analysts and data leaders looking to understand how AI will impact 'top of stack' business intelligence roles in the coming years.

Building analytics at Hive from scratch

A talk by: Oleg Agapov, Analytics Engineer, Hive

Date: April 11, 2:00PM ET

At, Oleg and his team are embarking on the exciting journey of building a Modern Data Stack from scratch. Oleg looks forward to sharing this process with a broad spectrum of individuals, from data practitioners to managers. The talk will touch both the technical and business sides of the journey.

Beyond the Cloud: The future of analytics in the hybrid era

A talk by: Mehdi Ouazza, Developer advocate, MotherDuck

Date: April 12, 11:30AM ET

In this talk, Mehdi will take you on a trip down memory lane to explore why there was a significant shift towards cloud computing. We'll appreciate the innovations brought by this transition, but also recognize that our current local computing capabilities are far more powerful than they were when the cloud first emerged. The rising costs of cloud computing have been a burning issue, prompting teams and the entire industry to rethink how we can better leverage our local computing resources. The good news is that there are already specific technologies aligning with this strategy. In our discussion, we will delve into particular analytics use cases powered by WebAssembly (WASM) technology. This exploration will not only highlight the technical aspects but also demonstrate the practical benefits of this integrated approach in the realm of data analytics.

Why attend MDS Fest?

This track is not just about understanding the importance of being data-driven; it's about seeing the transformation in action and learning how to replicate this success in your organization. It's for anyone who believes in the power of data to change the course of their business, from data scientists and analysts to product managers and marketing executives.

Explore what MDS Fest has to offer

Join us at MDS Fest from April 8 - 12 to explore the cutting-edge of data-driven strategies, and take home actionable insights that could redefine the future of your organization. Get your tickets at today.

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