The Culture Shock

Posted on October 31, 2018 by Fiona Buckley

You can't go a day without seeing a story about data. Whether it's a company misusing data, legislation about data, or how much your personal data is worth, these little chunks of information are big news and big business.

You’ve also probably heard that ‘data is the new oil’, and there’s certainly a lot of money to be made from it. But there’s more to it than that. Like oil, when it’s processed properly data can produce a whole range of innovative new products.

But when it comes to improving business performance, data tends to be used in pretty traditional ways. Most new products use data to offer more efficient or comprehensive ways of analysing something easily quantifiable like financial performance, workplace productivity or industry growth.

Better ways of measuring these things are important, but companies have already been recording them for decades – or even centuries. What if it was possible to measure something completely different?

What's most exciting right now is using data to understand the human aspects of a company. Businesses are getting more switched on to how important culture is to a company’s success, and there is growing evidence that good culture increases profits, but because it’s so difficult to benchmark company and market wide, it’s often neglected.

Big players in the tech industry led the way on prioritizing amazing company culture, and Google’s free meals, flexible working and on-site massages certainly don’t seem to have done their profits any harm. This has definitely put culture on the agenda for businesses big and small, but executives often need to know the exact impact something has on the bottom line to invest in it.

One of our new clients at Man Bites Dog is using data to crack the culture conundrum. Although some other companies are trying to figure what makes a good or bad culture, Temporall are really one to watch – they’re using machine learning to actually work out the value of different organisational cultures.

Why will people care? Because we’ve never been able to measure the abstract parts of organisations before, culture often gets a reputation for being “fluffy” and is often put in the HR category of something that needs to be improved companywide. But this isn’t a nice-to-have. On top of affecting overall profits, culture is important for attracting and retaining employees, developing new products and services and with top talent in short supply this could become a crucial factor in winning the best staff.

This could be the start of a new data revolution, and Temporall are a key player in measuring things that matter to employees and boards. Companies could be ranked by culture, transforming what they are judged on and why they succeed. I’ve no doubt that over time it will be become a recognised KPI for management. Ethics would become competitive and the labour market will evolve accordingly. If data is the new oil, this could be the invention of plastic - but without clogging up the seas. I say we embrace the culture shock.


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