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How to create a culture of empowerment through data and technology

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Photo credit:

Sriram Jagannathan

Catherine Wong writes about the value of data and technology in curating a more efficient, effective work culture - and choosing the right technology for the right challenge.

Catherine Wong is the Chief Product Officer of Domo. 

With the increasing volume of data in the modern business environment, companies are facing a significant challenge to transform how they manage information and analytics across the workforce. Last year, Domo’s Data Never Sleeps report estimated that by 2020, 1.7 MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth.

Each megabyte presents a new challenge for the C-Suite.

To ensure their company is acting on insight, CEOs must make decisions based on data from all departments, something that’s hard to extract when information is locked in silos. Meanwhile, the CMO’s role is shapeshifting as expectations on the marketing department evolve and new roles like the CDO (Chief Data Officer) and CCO (Chief Customer Officer) emerge and even take over.

These changes though have helped make a stronger case for any leader, in any department, that understands and can effectively action business data. In the past, the data analysis was left to IT departments and specialists, but leaders are no longer limited by old-legacy technology and specialist skills. Thanks to emerging technologies, lower-level employees are empowered to access insights themselves and make critical business decisions for their role.

When properly invested, the right technologies can be transformative for businesses, unlocking employee potential and boosting productivity. But how do you choose the right tools for the job?


A gap in the market

We were inspired to create Domo to answer this very question. Collectively, companies can spend millions of dollars on traditional business intelligence systems without really understanding the value or what they’re looking at. We wanted to remove the middleman and put actionable data on one platform, accessible to all, so everyone in the company is on a level playing field.

But before enabling other companies to run transparently, we had to ensure our own business model was operating on the same premise. Our Founder and CEO, Josh James, wanted to create an experience that enabled all leaders to run their businesses on their phones. My mission coming to Domo was to build the platform that achieved that experience: connecting people, systems and data through an integrated product that acts as seven start-ups in one.

Never before had senior leaders been able to make all their business decisions, or see all parts of the business they’re accountable for, running in one place, in real-time, right from their phone. Employee productivity is enabled by a leader that can make on-the-spot decisions by having the right data to hand.


What else is out there?

Beyond our own backyard, there are a whole host of technologies to help the C-Suite unlock the true potential and digital knowledge of its workforce. Data and system consolidation has paved the way for IoT devices to be better connected and spiked the trend in AI within business, resulting in devices globally feeding into one central database – a huge step for international brands.

The very infrastructure of born-in-the-cloud brands enables employees to enjoy a more flexible schedule. Through time-tracking and real-time messaging features, workers can openly communicate with their colleagues at the times they’re most productive, from any location. This has not only offered agility to the working environment of enterprises, but combined with data analytics, offers transparency for leaders to understand when their workforce is most productive.

Beyond flexible working, IoT plays a huge role in creating an efficient physical working environment.

As enterprise employee bases grow into the thousands, collaborative working becomes crucial to productivity, achieved through seamless connectivity of mobile devices from anywhere in the building. It’s a concept already implemented by many, but if you couple it with access to live business data on screens during ad hoc meetings, a new wave of efficiency is created, with a huge number of man hours saved.


Connecting the dots

So when did these innovations become expectations? Once a benefit, it’s no longer enough to position tech as a staff benefit or incentive – implementation and an inherently savvy culture is equally as important.

A study from Dell found that more than 50 percent of employees expect to be working in a smart office within the next five years. Our workforce is being raised on agile software and devices at entry, rather than it being deployed at the highest level. Truly understanding and realizing the potential of your tools is just as important as investing in them in the first place.

The key is managing the tension between the next-gen workforce that have grown up around technology and established senior leaders who have adapted to it. When we interviewed 100 UK CEOs last year, just 26 percent said they would focus investments on data and analytics management over the next five years. Yet it’s these new material management methods that leaders need to focus on. Doing so will not only help them stay competitive in business, but will create an attractive and efficient working environment for their employees.

There’s science and strategy behind embracing technology at work and it’s truly as empowering as you make it.