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9 Ways to Empower Your Data Team

Hiring a team of data professionals alone doesn’t automatically make a company data-driven. That team needs to be empowered — giving them a seat at the table when making critical decisions. Here are nine ways to make sure you get the most value from your data team:

1. Hire a CDO

If you want something done right, you need to make it someone’s day job. A great CDO or data leader may be expensive and difficult to find, but having one will pay dividends. Your CDO needs to be well respected across the organization, because the data they rely on will need to come from different teams.

2. Invite your data leader

Make sure your data leader is invited to strategic discussions and executive-level meetings. In order to be a true strategic partner, your CDO needs a full picture of what the executive team is trying to accomplish.

3. Give your data team the right tools

Data teams need the autonomy to buy what they want, to use the tools they want and to structure data how they want. In traditional organizations, data teams are often stuck using tools chosen by IT. These tools might not have the features data experts know they need to do faster, deeper analysis.

4. Set clear strategic goals

Your centralized data team is a brain for every team at the company, so they will quickly become overwhelmed with requests from every corner of the business. Setting strategic priorities to rank these requests is key. If your data team, for example, spends all day making reporting dashboards for the business, you may not get the other aforementioned benefits of having a data team as a strategic partner.

5. Play to team members’ strengths

Think about what business units the analysts you hire have supported before. Do they have a history of supporting the sales or marketing team in previous roles? If so, make sure they are aligned to support the right teams within the company. Data they rely on will need to come from different teams.

6. Let them ask questions

Don’t simply use your data team to confirm or deny existing beliefs. Give them the power to ask and answer questions using data. If you only ask your data team narrow, closed questions (“Don’t tell me what I should do, just answer this question”), you’re missing out on all the benefits of their expertise.

7. Make your data team business partners

You want your data team to be savvy enough on the ins and outs and operations of the line of business, to understand their strategic goals and challenges — but you don’t want them fully beholden to the sales or marketing team.

8. Give the team ownership (or at least influence) over rolling out new software

If you want a single source of truth, it is important that the data team ensures that your systems of record are integrated properly, so that they are able to pull the right data in the right way.

9. Give them resources

The data team should then have the resources necessary from an engineering standpoint to tackle strategic goals and provide insights to your business. And, of course, they also need the budget to pay for the tools and software they need.

In the age of data-driven decisions, your decisions are only as good as your data team. Learn more about the steps your business can take to grow and empower your data team, and the benefits you will realize as result in our new guide, Building & Empowering Your Data Team.

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Greg Strickland
Greg Strickland is chief operating officer at Periscope Data. He is a Bay Area native and Cal alum. Prior to Periscope Data, he spent seven years at Box running global operations, and established the company’s international hub out of London. He is the father of three young children and likes sleeping in (which never really happens).