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Nowadays, data has become one of the hottest topics in the finance world and even in other organizations. Businesses are beginning to realize why they need to move from just getting insights from data to implementing actions based on the data gathered.

Unfortunately, recognizing a problem does not always translate to having a solution. Therefore, despite understanding the need to embrace a data-driven culture, many companies still struggle to move beyond simply collecting and presenting data to taking meaningful action based on the data.

So, this post seeks to provide a solution to this prevailing problem. In this blog post, we'll discuss how organizations can shift from a data-gathering mindset to a data-driven mindset. We will be doing this by addressing some of the challenges organizations face in properly utilizing data and how to overcome them.

Understanding Context

According to a 2019 Deloitte Survey of US executives, only 37% of executives believe their organizations are data-driven while 67% of the respondents admitted their discomfort using data. In fact, only 10% of the 37 falls into the highest category of the IDO maturity scale. The numbers are crazy, they indicate that more needs to be done in forging a data-driven culture.

One way this can be achieved is by understanding the significance of context when presenting data. Often, we focus so much on insights and presentable dashboards that we lose sight of what we should be looking for, context. Mere insights or dashboards are not enough; you also need to clearly understand the business context.

When interacting with data, you should be asking pertinent questions. What exactly are we looking for? What are we seeking to achieve with this data? What answers are we hoping to get? Are we seeking to understand our supply chain, analyze our sales, or are we trying to do prediction disruptions? To what purpose are we interacting with this data?

Understanding context will help you better understand how to get actionable insight from data. Companies can only achieve results from data when they establish the purpose behind the data they share.

Bridging the Gap Between Finance and Business

Another important point to note is the communication gap between finance professionals and the business stakeholders. Whether you are a fractional CFO or an in-house CFO, it can sometimes be difficult to speak the language of your business partners. And you cannot get cohesion when the communication aspect is lacking.

Top management are really concerned about the bottom line at the end of the day. So, when you bring before them a bunch of field IDs and values that mean nothing to them, there is no way you can move forward.

Therefore, you must find a way to balance the technology speak and business terms. What this simply means is that business data needs to be presented in business terms. The finance department must communicate its data needs in business terms, ensuring that dashboards and reports are presented in a way that makes sense to the CEO and other stakeholders.

Centralizing Data Silos

The subject of cohesion is not just limited to the finance department or CFO and the stakeholders. It is also necessary in bringing the different departments of a particular organization together. A business is supposed to be one unit with different components, and if data from all those components are not centralized, the business will struggle to be cohesive.

Often, what you find in many organizations is data silos, whereby different departments are hoarding their data, hindering collaboration and decision-making. And businesses can only function well when there is centralization of data to aid transformation into actions.

Businesses, therefore, need to find a way to promote data centralization. They can do this by ensuring their technology serves them to achieve this purpose. They should use less standalone software and incorporate tools that are more all-encompassing. They’d better be able to centralize data when they employ tools with cross-functional features that encourage collaboration.

Technology as a Force Multiplier

Segueing from the use of collaborative tools to centralize data, organizations also need to understand that they stand a better chance of developing a data-driven culture when they leverage technology.

At the elementary level, technology is simply anything that makes work easier and faster. So, if your technology is not achieving this, the purpose is defeated. Rather than serving the technology, you need to ensure that your technology serves you.

This is because it is easy to love a powerful tool and stick to it when it is doing nothing to achieve data centralization or promote a data-driven culture. Technology should be a superpower to help you do more with less. So, it should not become a stumbling block rather than a force multiplier. Therefore, you need to ensure that your tools support collaboration, connect different data portfolios, and deliver meaningful data in business-friendly terms.

Building a Strong Foundation

The conversation about data centralization or building a data-driven culture in your organization should be moving forward and retrogressing. But it would all be wishful thinking, and these conversations will keep springing up without a solid foundation.

A company would find it difficult to transform data into action if they don’t have a strong technological foundation. Therefore, organizations need to assess the ability of their current data landscape and data portfolio to take them where they need to be. Intentions don’t cut it; you can only achieve proper cohesion with the right technology.

This is where something we call, business data fabric, comes in. Data Fabric is a big future for data landscapes because it is all about building intelligent data applications. It thinks about building an intelligent foundation that allows companies to deliver meaningful data to every data consumer business or IT with business context intact.

So, that foundation is vital. When purchasing software, businesses must ensure they get tools that have a deep inherent connection with their data portfolio and other data tools.


To truly leverage data as an asset, organizations must go beyond collecting and presenting insights. They need to foster a data-driven culture that emphasizes action and collaboration. And by paying attention to the points above, they will be well on their way to driving success in an increasingly data-centric world.

To learn more on this topic, check out my discussion with Kaiser Larson, VP of Product Marketing and Data Analytics at SAP or visit
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