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What it Takes to Win the Data Culture War


Emmanuel Osanga, Head: Africa Regions Data Office at Standard Bank Group, makes the case that to transform data culture we must convince the people

The foundational work required to transform a business’ data strategy and drive data initiatives forward is lengthy and requires data practitioners to do a lot of heavy lifting.

However, Emmanuel Osanga, Head: Africa Regions Data Office at Standard Bank Group, argues that data leaders must also be able to prove the immediate practical value to their teams in this episode of Data Conversations Over Coffee.

“You can create fancy analytics models,” he says. “But if the guys who are going to use those models do not understand the importance of using them to deliver for our clients, it will be a waste of effort and time.”

Rather than attempting to ‘boil the ocean’, Osanga explains that leaders ought to focus on producing practical insights for people at a scale that relate to their individual use cases.

He explains: “When people are able to see the value that this creates for them, you will begin to draw people’s hearts and win them over in building that culture.”

Osanga also cautions that, while necessary, winning hearts and minds is not sufficient for success. The entire organization must also possess a common data language, an appropriate level of data skills and an inquisitive, outward-looking approach to data.

He concludes: “Help [your executives] maintain an external perspective to understand the art of what is possible. Do not be restricted to only the knowledge you already have in your organization.”

Key Takeways

  • Demonstrate small-scale insights. To be successful, individuals in the organization need to see the immediate benefit of data programs
  • Infuse the business strategy with data. Once you can explain how data will drive the business strategy forward you can start to move the entire organization in your direction
  • Focus on knowledge, literacy and skills. These foundations will enable you to scale data initiatives organization-wide and begin to extract their full value