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5 ways to build the culture for effective DataOps

Tue 5 May 2020 | Gary Richardson

Gary Richardson, MD for Data at 6point6, and Christopher Bergh, CEO at DataKitchen offer 5 top tips for unlocking DataOps success

Data created by companies is bigger than ever before, with many seeking to understand how DataOps processes can be used to convert such data into actionable business insights. Gartner defines DataOps as a collaborative data management practice aiming to improve the communication, integration and automation of data flows between data consumers and data managers in a company.

There remains a distance to go until businesses are fully aware of the most effective ways for maintaining good data quality and data management. Major cultural transformation must occur within many companies if DataOps is to be successful. This shift involves accepting that DataOps is a continuous process and serves as an impetus for organisational change by encouraging agility and endorsing change.

At present, most organisations must alter the way in which employees work together using data, and the way this data is used. The building of data pipelines and products needs to be a united act with a shared comprehension of the value this data represents. Here, we look at five ways business leaders can set such a cultural change in motion.

  1. Accept the premise of DataOps as an ongoing process

If DataOps is to succeed, a company’s leadership needs to forget traditional and well-established areas of data analytics, and rebuild the process. Businesses must create a culture in which all members of the organisation are on board with the way the data is being used to make actionable decisions, while the company’s structure needs to work in such a way as to support a data-driven attitude of ongoing evolution.

The primary obstacle to successful data management within businesses is a hesitancy to implement, distribute and change data across the company. This slowness means many teams and departments make the decision to act alone to compensate for this, when in fact it is vital that teams work together.

Organisations often perceive their technology teams as building a house that we can then step away from, and, once the homeowners move in, the teams’ role is obsolete. However, DataOps is more equivalent to a river; customers send questions down the river, and technology teams must regularly move with the river. DataOps is a continuous process, and cannot be built and left alone, so the cultural change that must occur needs to centre around endorsing this.

  1. Support decisions with data

Businesses need to put data at the centre of decision-making. This must be a priority for every worker, from data analysts, to those who manage, maintain or use data, and the platforms needed to process the data.

It is crucial that organisations are giving employees the power to present opinions and suggest changes when those ideas are supported by data. This will allow the best ideas to move naturally to the top, so that you can be competitive even in the toughest markets. By consequence, management must cede a certain amount of oversight control in return for enabling more decision-making processes to be based on data across the company.

  1. Data silos must go

All of the data you could desire would be useless if such data cannot be accessed by those who require it in order to make decisions. Businesses must build a culture that tears down legacy organisational boundaries that will have developed and caused data silos, which stop data insights from moving without friction. Companies need to shift from collecting data, to sharing data. This change will only be precipitated by governance, security and access control. Teams who work from many different organisational structures will need to work together.

In addition, business leaders need to enable workers to use the most accurate data at any time. Teams must have the capability to access and understand the data that influences them and their work.                     

  1. The need for a brave outlook

Putting in place effective DataOps requires a braver mindset to be a staple part of your company culture. There are usually two opposite organisation types: firstly, those (often larger companies), who fear making changes in case they alter the current state of play notably. Such companies are reluctant to put a foot wrong, and are resistant to making many changes. As such, they usually have numerous rules and regulations in place, which means any transformation will not be fast.

At the other end of the scale are smaller businesses which tend to have individuals who seek to make change themselves, work at pace and cut corners where possible. These organisations regularly find themselves coming up against issues they regret causing. Nonetheless, there are processes, software and methods that can assist them with fast growth while avoiding mistakes; businesses that can succeed and need not fear errors.

Numerous organisations are scared of the risk required when making alterations to the status quo, but this is the only route forward to a more successful future. Any failure that is experienced en route must be perceived as a chance to improve. Companies must take on a braver attitude and a fresh way of doing things, and forget historic routine and legacy processes.

DataOps can assist businesses with moving away from a system of ineffective caution and towards a bolder ethos, as it provides the structure and methodology to allow companies to enter a phase in which they can move with agility and make fewer mistakes.

  1. The need for the correct data tools and support

When data is not being used to solve business issues, it is not being used to its fullest extent. This is why it is crucial that businesses are investing in data process tools so that teams are able to share, access and analyse data effectively. DataOps is not one tool that can be bought and then completed. Essentially, any DataOps solution ought to enhance your business’ capacity to collaborate, build data pipelines, automate testing and monitoring, and deploy new features. If you have enough time and resources, you can create and oversee a DataOps program using the tools accessible for environment creation, orchestration and deployment. If you are seeking agility and speed, purchasing an all-in-one DataOps platform may be more suitable.

Be certain that you are investing in the right training for using the above tools. Technology platforms are available that can assist you in orchestrating your multi-environment data pipelines, including data access and value delivery. Meanwhile, the advice of external experts can also be valuable when looking to effect a smooth transition to a suitable DataOps culture.

If you concentrate on the ecosystem for your data (including the teams, the tech, and the processes), you will be able to create a successful DataOps culture which serves to ensure data value is maximised and your many teams are able to collaborate well. Ultimately, embracing the continuous nature of DataOps processes is key, and must be accepted by all employees if your business is to move towards a successful tomorrow.

Experts featured:

Gary Richardson

MD for Data


culture dataops strategy
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