Analytics and culture

By Stellan Björnesjö

Analytics and culture

Anyone in marketing and sales today realise the need to make educated decisions based on data, but few manage to get to a point where ambition becomes reality. Resources are added, investments are made, but one important component tends to be overlooked, the one thing that ultimately determine success: A metric driven culture.  

The importance of culture is a difficult topic since it’s inherently empirical and difficult to prove, yet it’s important in all team driven environments. One very clear example is in football (soccer) where national teams are very competitive and as one generation of players replace another fortunes can quickly shift. Yet Germany has won 4 titles, finished 8 times in the top two, and 13 times in the top 3. Meanwhile a nation that considers itself the home of football (England) has only 1 title to its name and zero top two or three finishes. In fact, while Germany has won 66 out of 106 games played and only lost 20, England has played 62 games and won only 26 of those. They both have an abundance of talent and resources, yet one of them always seem to win. A point of fact that Gary Lineker (himself a legendary goal scorer for England) once referred to with the famous words:

‘Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.’

So, what makes the difference? One can’t enough emphasise what’s often referred to as a ‘winning culture’, for example in this Harvard Business Review article outlining the defining elements of such a culture. In the article the author concludes that ‘winning cultures aren’t just about affiliation; they are also unashamedly about results.’ This is further elaborated upon as a culture ‘Oriented toward winning. There is strong ambition focused on objective measures of success, either versus the competition or against some absolute standard of excellence.’

This of course brings us back to the topic of analytics. Yes, great analytics skills require talent and resources, but it’s most often not enough. The companies that succeed realise analytics and informed decisions has to be part of the corporate DNA, the culture of the company. If not, the risk is that as soon as one data driven prediction turn out to be wrong, the organisation falls back to making decisions the way it used to. Before all those investments and all those added resources to turn insights into advantages. That won’t only be a shame, it will ultimately determine the future success, or rather the lack of it, of the business as a whole. 

So, as you come under pressure from management to step up the analytics efforts—and in fact 6 out of 10 professionals from around the world already agree that there is pressure from senior management for their organization to become more data-driven and analytical—don’t forget that changing the culture itself is a very important component of success. 

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Stellan Björnesjö
Online Strategist at Zooma since 2012. 15+ years of experience as a manager, business developer and specialist within online and e-commerce.
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