Remember that movie “Office Space?” It’s a classic from ’99 where Peter, a software engineer, is just fed up with his job. He’s constantly getting in trouble for not completing these ridiculous TPS reports. I’m talking mindless busy work, like sending these reports around with specific cover sheets every single day. It’s insane. And here’s the crazy thing – even today, a lot of knowledge workers still don’t have access to the data they need to actually do their jobs. Can you believe that? The people who are supposed to be creating value through their work are being held back by their own companies. It’s complete madness.
You see, data owners are all worried that if they give their employees access to the data, they’ll mess it up or come to the wrong conclusions and steer the whole company off a cliff. But in reality, hoarding data is a huge obstacle for organizations. It slows them down, big time. In fact, a recent survey found that even though companies know that their employees make better decisions when they have access to relevant data, they still don’t give them that access. It’s mind-boggling.
So, here are three things that companies need to change in order to create a data culture that actually empowers their employees. First, they need to shift from a “need to know” mindset to a “need to share” mindset. Right now, most organizations only give their employees the bare minimum data they need to solve a problem. And sometimes they don’t even get that. But we’re starting to see a shift towards more data sharing, and it’s about time. Take a bank, for example. If different divisions within the bank don’t share data, it can lead to major problems. Like, imagine one division shutting down an account because they think the account holder is deceased, but another division didn’t have that information because it wasn’t being shared. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. So, companies need to start embracing the idea of sharing data instead of hoarding it.
Next, companies need to trust their subject matter experts. There’s this fear that knowledge workers will misuse the data and make terrible decisions based on inaccurate numbers. But that’s not fair. Just like we trust a tax accountant to use a scientific calculator without randomly pushing buttons, we should trust our finance professionals to work with data. They know what they’re doing. They have a deep understanding of the numbers and can use technology to quickly get the answers they need. Plus, when we give them access to the data they need, they can make strategic decisions that drive the organization forward. It’s all about empowering the experts.
Lastly, companies need to embrace automation. It’s not a new concept, but it’s becoming more and more prevalent in every industry. Automation can take care of the mundane, repetitive tasks and free up knowledge workers to do more creative and strategic things. Companies that embrace automation and analytics outperform those that don’t. It’s as simple as that. And the best part is, leveraging these capabilities doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s actually quite easy, and the return on investment can be incredible.
So, let’s stop hoarding data like a bunch of crazy dragons. Let’s give our employees the access they need to make intelligent decisions. Let’s trust our subject matter experts and let them work their magic. And let’s embrace automation to free up our knowledge workers to do what they do best. It’s time to unlock the full value of our data and take our organizations to new heights.