Data: a cultural transformation and not a quick fix

Quick fixes are not the order of the day and, while the utilisation of tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning (ML) may reap initial rewards, focus needs to switch to a much more all-encompassing cultural shift surrounding data analytics.

Bypassing the AI-ML gamble, and opting for a more comprehensive adoption of data science, understanding and realising its true value, enterprises will be much better equipped to deal with the fluctuating trends and emerging competition that awaits them.

This has been the view of advanced data analytics specialists Mango Solutions for more than 16 years now. While the company and its chief data scientist and co-founder Rich Pugh urges businesses to embrace methodical and pragmatic data processes before they dive in at AI-ML level, these tools have at least engaged people in the data conversation.

“The notion that ideas like AI or ML can just be plugged in and the company then watches as money pours out of their servers is dangerous, but at least it’s finally opened the door to have the conversation about how companies can become data driven,” says Mr Pugh. “Our organisation is focused on facilitating these conversations that we believe should have been occurring 16 years ago when we were incepted, so we can help companies avoid quick buzzword-led reactions and instead strive for a cultural transformation based on data.”

Much of this facilitation revolves around encouraging businesses to ask the right questions pertinent to their strategic goals. Rather than jumping on buzzword bandwagons for short-term gains, by ingraining a climate of data reliance within a company, a more sustainable resistance to challenges is formed and a more streamlined route to tailored business success is established.

Mr Pugh continues: “Some organisations we work with are just starting out and skilling up, trying to make sense of data science and indeed the tools that contribute to the conversation. Others are more experienced and established, but have more of a challenge in terms of building capabilities.

“The question for all reverts to ‘where are you on your data-driven journey and what’s the best way forward for your company?’”

Mango Solutions has put together a nine-step process to assist clients in this regard. It’s a practical checklist that helps companies not only learn about data science, but how to enact its benefits long after Mango’s team has left the building.

The rallying cry throughout has been for companies to become data junkies, just like Mango

Initiated by building an analytic community, analysing best practices and analytic governance, and educating the business to ensure consistency of analytics across the organisation, businesses are then encouraged to focus on asking the right questions, before prioritising and executing goals, and subsequently identifying success parameters around these goals. Finally, an assessment of overall data-driven maturity is conducted, before alignment across the entire organisation, and especially leadership positions, is confirmed.

“What has never been more prevalent is the conversation at C-suite level and the burden of making the most of data. These nine steps aren’t a linear, standardised service, but a methodical, customised, healthily cynical and, above all, pragmatic way to get companies to a point of self-sufficiency,” Mr Pugh explains. “The key is to find experience, look for knowledge and skills transfer, and to develop autonomy and support.

“Ultimately, Mango believes this nine-step approach is a proven effective way to facilitate a company’s data-driven journey.”

Entities to have reaped the benefit of this service over the years range from financial and insurance institutions, to pharmaceutical firms, retail and transport companies, all the way up to government level, reflecting how widespread the data conversation now is and how vital it is for organisations to be saying the right things in this conversation.

Mango Solutions played a pivotal role in creating a blueprint for how data science can be implemented across UK government, instilling a sustainable culture of methodical data analytics, before slowly removing personnel from the operation once the education and transformational shift was complete.

“This is key,” says Mr Pugh. “Yes, we deliver value and guide them through their data journey. More than that though, we help them build something sustainable beyond our input; a repeatable process ingrained into the culture of their organisation.

“Most businesses are enthusiastic about improving, but we channel that enthusiasm in a more pragmatic way. Getting them from A to B, from B to C, C to D, avoiding the pitfalls and essentially laying out a map for their data journey.”

Since 2002, Mango Solutions has been championing the role that data science can play for organisations and while other competitors, large management consultancies and startups alike, have looked to provide a similar service, the UK-based provider has remained at the forefront; its longevity now a differentiator in itself.

The rallying cry throughout has been for companies to become data junkies, just like Mango. The sooner all businesses can see data as a cultural shift rather than a short-term technical project, the sooner the goal of a data-driven future can be realised.

Chief executive Matt Aldridge concludes: “Companies might well have been making millions off individual projects, classing that as success in analytics. However, these are anecdotal stories of isolated successes as opposed to examples of an ongoing ‘turn-the-wheel’ process to generate value. They still weren’t seeing the opportunity for data to improve every decision and that made data an unsustainable aspect of their business.

“It is now vitally significant that companies realise every decision can be improved with data and this can only be done by creating an entire transformational and cultural shift in how they see data and how they apply it to their operations.

“Things like AI, big data, ML, they’re all enablers, but they’re not a business culture or strategy. Separating this hype from actual strategy is what we’ve been renowned for since inception. We’ve witnessed the evolution of data and other companies now need to embark on their journeys too.

“By doing so in an open, honest and outcome-focused way, they too will find out that there’s massive value to be realised from the future of data.”

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