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Every year, companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on analytics technology investments intended to enable the business to work more efficiently and effectively, drive growth and secure profitability. The ability of a company to reap the full benefits of these analytics investments depends largely on the nature and degree to which people adopt the technology, and this often comes down to a question of culture.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines culture as “the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.”  When people adopt technology as part of their culture, companies realize the maximum return on their investment.  This is more than simply a matter of rolling out a training program or communication plan with your implementation.  Technology becomes part of an organization’s culture when it is embedded in the fabric of life within the organization.

An information culture is one in which information is considered a strategic asset within the organization.  Information is not just a corporate resource; it is part of how the company defines and differentiates itself.  In an information culture, data is used alongside experience and intuition in decision making.  Employees build and tell fact-based stories.  They are curious, and they expect data to help them understand their world.  These companies use information to maximize their performance.  Their information enables them to be adaptive and tailor their products and services to the dynamics of their customers.

Companies that are able to adopt an information culture are able to generate the highest returns from their analytics investments.  The question, then, is how do you create an information culture within your organization?  There are several key components to developing an information culture:

  • Executive support
    Ultimately, if information is not considered a strategic asset at the highest levels of an organization, there will never be the investment required to make information available across the entire organization.  In organizations where executives embrace information as essential to business operations they model a behavior that will cascade throughout the organization.
  • Proximity of information to people
    If your employees are in the field, but the information is at their desk, then you cannot have a successful information culture.  Companies who forge an information culture understand how and where their employees work and make information widely accessible across the organization.
  • Information support
    Information needs to be accurate.  It needs to be presented in the right context.  Yet, for most organizations information is often in disparate systems, there are issues with data quality, people don’t know how to find the information they need.  An information support team will ensure that information is accurate and relevant.

In my next blog, I will discuss how SAP made the shift towards an information culture, making information pervasively available across the organization via mobile devices. Stay tuned!

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