Why You Should Build a Strong Data Culture Before You Integrate Machine Learning and AI

Joy Eakins and Chris Wyant Cornerstone Data share their data analytics with a client.

In our numerous company partnerships, we keep encountering leaders who want to implement Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their businesses to move them toward the cutting edge. While we support this endeavor, it is important to note how these technologies work. Let’s compare this to leadership wanting to create one of the greatest meals ever to feed and inspire their team.

In the world of AI and Machine Learning, algorithms are like chefs. They take the ingredients (data) and follow a recipe (the algorithm) to create a dish (the output). However, if the ingredients are of poor quality, even the best chef in the world can’t create a gourmet meal. Similarly, if the data fed into an algorithm is bad, the output will also be bad. This is often referred to as “garbage in, garbage out.” What leader wants to pay for the top-notch chef but yet provide ingredients that are going to poison their workers? 

There are multiple solutions to this problem, but let’s start with the core building block: a strong data culture. A data culture is an organizational mindset that values, understands, and uses data effectively. It’s like the garden where the chef gets their ingredients. This garden needs to be nurtured and cared for. The seeds (education and training) need to be planted, the plants (data tools and resources) need to be watered, and the weeds (barriers to data access and use) need to be removed.  

In a strong data culture, everyone is a citizen data scientist in their own right. They understand the importance of data and know how to use it to make informed decisions. This is like giving everyone in your organization a superpower. They can see trends, spot opportunities, and make decisions based on hard evidence that either supports (and in some cases refutes) their gut instinct.

Sounds great, right? Let’s just do a couple of training sessions on data culture, and off we go…right?

Unfortunately, creating an effective data culture is not just about training everyone to use data. It’s also about creating an environment where data is readily available, trusted, and used consistently. It’s about breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration. It’s about making data a part of the organization’s DNA. It is about making sure your data strategies align with your business strategies and objectives. This is the work your team must accomplish to ensure your garden is healthy and bountiful, which in turn yields amazing results that turn into the delicious and inspiring dishes served up by your top-notch chefs.

While algorithms can’t fix bad data, a strong data culture can prevent bad data from even being created in the first place. It’s a proactive approach that ensures the data you feed into your algorithms is of high quality, leading not only to better results…but also continued development to move your team toward adoption of these amazing tools and outcomes. 

We know a thing or two about building highly successful data cultures, and we know a thing or two about the tools and practices necessary to leverage today’s modern analytics for your business. 

Turn to us to fill in the gaps on your current team or simply support you in all facets of your data journey. Why wait, let’s get started on creating some really amazing dishes together.