Data Culture

Understanding the different data cultures

Just like corporate or organizational culture, each enterprise that deals with data has its own data culture. We believe that what distinguishes Web Giants isn’t the structure of their governance, but the culture that irrigates and animates this organization.

At Zeenea, we believe in putting in place a Data Democracy. It refers to corporate culture, an open model where freedom rhymes with responsibility.

To better understand Data Democracy, it is necessary to compare it to other data cultures. Here are the main data cultures:

Data Anarchy

In this system, operational professions feel poorly served by their IT departments, and each one develops its own clandestine base (shadow IT) which serves their immediate interests while freeing them from all control regulations and conformity to standards. In 2019, this culture brings sizeable risks: data leaks, contravention of ethical regulations, service quality degradation, reinforcement of silos, etc.

Data Monarchy

This system translates to a very strong asymmetry in data access depending on the hierarchical position. Data, here, is very strictly controlled; its consolidation level is carefully aligned with the organizational structure, and its distribution is very selective.

This monarchical culture prevailed for a long time in Business Intelligence (BI) projects: data collected in data warehouses were carefully controlled, then consolidated in reports where access was reserved to a few select people who were close to decision-making bodies. This method promotes a “top-down” approach and willingly encourages a defensive strategy, where rules, restrictions, and regulations insulate data. Its main theoretical benefit is the almost infallible control over corporate data, but that translates into very limited access to data, only reserved to certain privileged groups.

Data Aristocracy

A Data Aristocracy is characterized by a more significant degree of freedom than in Data Monarchy, but which is solely reserved to a very select subset of the population, mainly expert profiles such as Data Engineers, Data Analysts, Data Scientists, etc. This aristocratic approach is often the one that brings the most successful data governance projects to the surface.

Such a culture can be favorable to more offensive strategies, as well as to heterogeneous one, combining top-down and bottom-up. However, it deprives the majority of employees access to data and thus, a certain number of possible innovations and valorizations.

Data Democracy

Data Democracy’s main objective is to make a company’s data widely accessible to the greatest number of people, if not to all. In practice, every employee is able to pull data values at any level. This freedom of access offers maximum opportunities to create value for the company; it provides each employee with the ability, at their level, to use all accessible and compatible resources within their needs in order to produce locally, and through a trickle effect, it will benefit the entire company.

This freedom only works if the regulations and the basic tools are implemented, and each employee is responsible for how they use their data. Therefore, the distribution of necessary and sufficient information is required to allow employees to make proper use of it while adhering to regulations.

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Download our white paper “How does Data Democracy strengthen Agile Data Governance?”

The democratic data culture presents an interesting challenge to balance: on one hand, you must ensure that the right to use data can truly be exercised, and on the other hand you must counterbalance this right with a certain number of duties. Find out how to construct a democratic data culture in our white paper, “How does Data Democracy strengthen Agile Data Governance?”.

Download our White paper.

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