I predict that data driven cultures will be the next big trend when bettering company culture.

It makes so much sense when you truly understand what it is and its value.

Too few companies truly have a data-driven culture. There are many companies that don’t rely on data at all, and we’ll talk about those in a minute, and then there are lots of companies that only empower their marketing/engineering team with data. That’s a big mistake. Get everyone excited about understanding the importance of data.

Let me first take a step back, and explain what the word “data driven culture” actually means. Put simply, it means that everyone in the company is using data to make their decisions.

This type of thinking is ingrained in the culture, so when new employees join, it’s part of the onboarding process.

Having a data-driven company culture works especially well with small, agile companies because they’re very nimble.

This is so important, because you have to be willing to change directions at any second based on what the data is telling you. You need to be able to understand your customers so deeply, that you know exactly what they’re doing, what they want, and how to best serve them.

A successful data-driven culture really comes down to three things. Data, Tools, and Culture.

Let’s dive deeper into each of those three.

Understanding Your Data

For the last few years, we’ve been hearing non-stop about the term “big data”.

There is so much data available to us, that understanding your data becomes more important than ever. What I mean by this, is it’s important to understand how to filter the data.

Once you have these troves of data, what do you do with it? How do you know which metric matters or which data point to focus on?

Unfortunately there’s no solid answer to this, and it will depend largely on your company’s goals, and KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators), but the first step is for everyone, from the CEO down to understand what KPI’s are important to your company.

I think far too often, the problem is ultimately lack of communication. Everyone should know about these, even if you might think it’s not necessarily relevant for their job. Put up a big sign in the kitchen, send everyone weekly emails, or have it up on a big TV screen at all times, like we do at our company.

Data can be the secret key to your competitive advantage, so understanding how to properly use it is incredibly important.

It’s not surprising to see that job postings for Data Scientists have increased exponentially in recent years.

Using The Right Tools

The way to properly display, filter, and understand data is by using the right tools for the job. I’ll explain briefly (without giving away too much), some of the tools we use at our company and how we use them.

Geckoboard – Firstly, we understand the importance of everyone having access to this data, so on one of the walls in our office, there is a big screen TV with Geckoboard data being displayed all the time, showing us real-time metrics of different things that matter to us.

Optimizely – A/B testing is an important part of having a data-driven culture. Being able to validate experiments. There are many times when someone on our team will say something like “I wonder what would happen if we removed those 2 fields from the signup form”. In traditional companies, what might happen is the CEO will say “remove those 2 fields because I said so”, whereas the smart thing to do is to test it out, and see if it makes sense. The level of reporting inside Optimizely is amazing.

Mixpanel – In addition to Google Analytics, this is the main analytics tool that we use to answer all kinds of questions, like who are our most active customers? What are they doing inside the platform? When people sign up, do they come back 2 weeks later?

Intercom.io – This tool is an absolute must-have if you run a software company. The way we use it is to engage and educate our customers. So first of all we have in-app messaging so our users can message us anytime with any support questions, and we also have notifications sent based on certain rules. So for example, in our case, if we see a user is very active in the platform, but he hasn’t invited any of his colleagues, we can send him a notification inside the app reminding him that the more users in the system, the better.

Zapier – We use Zapier to automate everything. This is important in a data-driven culture because you want all of your data to be properly aggregated, especially when you’re using so many tools. So in our case, as an example, if someone attends one of our webinars on GoToWebinar, we automatically add them to our MailChimp account, so that we can follow up with them. When everyone in the company is using many different tools, it’s nice to know that all of them will be up to date.

MailChimp – We use MailChimp for all of our email marketing. We communicate a lot with our customers, because we want to understand what matters to them. One of the best features inside MailChimp is the segments you can create. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about understanding how to filter data. Segmenting your users into groups is a major part of that.

Moz – Moz does a great job at giving you an incredible amount of data about how people are finding your website, what keywords you’re ranking for, and anything else that has to do with search engines. Our team spends a lot of time dissecting the data inside Moz.

Sprout Social – We use Sprout Social to monitor everything that has to do with our social media efforts. The level of reporting is insane in this tool. You can really get deep insight into which posts have the most engagement, what time of day seems to drive the most clicks, the reach of your posts, and much much more.

Establishing The Right Culture

Establishing a good company culture is the hardest thing to get right, but it’s also the most important.

For example, we use Yammer internally to share articles and presentations that we find. The reason we do this is that it’s essential to team building within a company.

If you’d like to see some team building activities for your office

Everyone understands the same amount, and everyone understands why we’re doing what we do.

As a marketer, when I ask someone in IT do a SQL query for me, I want him to understand why I’m probably asking him to do this without me having to explain it to him.

When I give him the request, ideally he (or she) should be saying “yes, that makes a lot of sense”.

Make sure everyone on the team understands the value of data. Encourage them to take classes online to learn more.

Companies should incentivize employees to learn more about these things. Once everyone knows more about why data matters, everyone will work better together.

Encourage an open, collaborative culture that gets employees engaged to ask these type of hard questions, and then use data to answer those questions, and make decisions.

Additional Resources

Custom reports are very important in a data-driven culture, because:

  • You need things that are personalized to your company’s needs
  • Most off the shelf reports won’t be any good to you

Look into Keen.io, it looks very promising.

Like I mentioned earlier, understanding what makes a good metric is so important for filtering the data. Check out this free course on Udemy from Ben Yoskovitz and Alistair Croll, the authors of Lean Analytics

Become a data science whiz with an amazing free course from the University of Washington. Check out their course on Coursera called Introduction to Data Science.

At the time of this writing, this course isn’t available yet, but you can pre-enroll on Udacity into a course called Intro to Data Science.

Do you think a data-driven company culture is important?

Let me know in the comments!