May 19, 2020

People-centric data strategies: five steps to achieve

Data strategy
Qlik
Mike Capone
Mike Capone, CEO, Qlik
3 min
People-centric data strategies: five steps to achieve

Organisations have undergone a significant evolution in their use of data this past decade. 

Where mitigating risk was the main focus, the C-suite priority has turned to empowering the workforce to extract greater value from data. 

New research from Qlik and Accenture looking at the Human Impact of Data Literacy revealed the majority of global employees are now expected to read, communicate with, and use data to inform their decisions on a weekly basis. 

However, many companies struggle to close the gap between this vision and the workforce’s ability to deliver on this in practice. An Accenture study from last year found only 32% of business executives were able to realize tangible and measurable value from data. 

To harness data’s potential, here are five practical steps any enterprise leader can implement today:

  1. Appoint a data champion responsible for delivering tangible results

To identify opportunities that align and tangibly impact the wider company objectives, the C-suite must appoint a data champion, typically a Chief Data Officer or the Chief Information Officer. They must act as a data ambassador across the organization, working with stakeholders to identify opportunities to maximize data use, along with executing a change management plan to transform processes as needed. 

  1. Get prepared

Just as you wouldn’t commit to organizational restructuring without a thorough analysis, you can’t embark upon a data strategy without an accurate understanding of the current state of data-informed decision making across the business.

Work with senior stakeholders of each department and the data champion to understand whether every employee has access to the necessary data and tools, along with assessing current and ideal data-related skill levels for every role. 

  1. Give people the right tools for the job

Work with the Chief Information Officer to ensure the data tools serve the needs of each user. Not only will these tools look different across skill levels, but they must be easily integrated into existing working practices to encourage adoption. 

  1. Invest in upskilling your workforce

The true benefits of data are realized when everyone in an organization is comfortable and confident using data. Yet, we’re facing a significant data literacy skills deficit: just one-fifth of the global workforce report they are confident in their ability to read, communicate with and make decisions using data. 

While data literacy training is a critical investment for enterprises, just one-third of executives of global firms previously reported their company provides it. As such, it presents an opportunity for market differentiation to improve the firm’s competitive edge. 

  1. Move with the opportunity

To better inform process and decision making, leaders have two critical responsibilities: first, they must ensure this process becomes ingrained in the organization’s DNA so data is always used effectively to improve competitive advantage. Second, they must ensure employee skill levels, access to data and tools are continuously reassessed to ensure they deliver on new opportunities.

For more information on business topics in Canada, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief North America

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Jun 12, 2021

How changing your company's software code can prevent bias

Deltek
diversity
softwarecode
inclusivity
Lisa Roberts, Senior Director ...
3 min
Removing biased terminology from software can help organisations create a more inclusive culture, argues Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR at Deltek

Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day. 

Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at  and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization. 

Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.

Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?  

We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization

What impact can exclusive terms have on employees? 

Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.    

Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code

Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!

What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?

What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology? 

My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve. 

 

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