How to build data-driven culture in your business6 min read

How do we kickstart data-driven cultural changes?

Data is now central in many industries. Continuously generated data that remains in the periphery are untapped potential and the lack of a culture that genuinely values data analytics can result in missed opportunities for crucial decision making. 

This excerpt from GlintsTalk x Block 71 Webinar discusses the importance of such data-driven culture and how businesses owners achieve growth. 

In this webinar are:

  • Commercial Director of Glints, Yeo Puay Lim (Moderator)
  • CEO of Holistics Software, Vincent Woon
  • COO of hoolah, Arvin Singh
  • Chief of Staff at OVO, Shirly Hardjono

Q: What is data-driven culture, and how is it important in your business?

Vincent Woon – CEO of Holistics: At Holistics, we think about data-driven culture more in terms of the friction it takes to access the data. When people finally access the data, do they have confidence in the data? Is it correct, reliable, trustworthy? Do they even understand what the meaning of the data use means? We strongly believe that once you reduce sufficient data, a natural inclination would be to use data to facilitate your decision making together with other input channels.

Arvin Singh – COO of hoolah: That was a really good point around data confidence. I feel like before we get there as a business, the key step we need to take is around data literacy. Really get that education going internally so that when it comes to decision making, we’ve got a framework, we’ve got access, and we’ve got education on how to make use of that data to drive that decision making. So, a lot of what I think about today is around that data literacy piece.

Shirly Hardjono – Chief of Staff at OVO: Driving a data- driven culture is not just something that we talk about as a buzzword. It is something that we really practice day to day, across layers and across levels. And it is highly important, because, you know, in this day and age, everything is driven by data.

Q: How has (your business) built the foundation for a data-driven culture?

VINCENT:  Sometimes, there are silos between the data teams and the consumer teams. This could cause friction and tension between them. So it’s about reducing the silos, focusing on business operations to bridge the gap. 

ARVIN: As we roll out platforms, tools to access data across the business, the approach that we’ve taken is to do so in a consultative manner. The respective teams aren’t getting only the login details to a BI platform, they’re getting a full on training, regiment supporting documentation content that’s required, and a guided walkthrough of how to make the most out of that platform. We have a 90/10 aspiration, where 90% is essentially self service over time, and 10% is consulted. 

SHIRLY:  I think the first building block is really the theatre architecture data system. The second building block will be data literacy, where you provide training. It’s been three years since OVO’s inception, and we’ve really come to the stage where we have built the access, we have the right data governance, we have the data architecture in place. 

A few more things we are always working on is empowerment. We want to encourage people to speak up about the data that they have, as well as making a wide-scale change from top-down in terms of framework and goal setting. 

Q: It’s not always a straightforward link when it comes to data- what is causation, and what is simply correlation. Would you say sometimes you don’t need to only make sense of the numbers, but overlay intuition over the data?

VINCENT: I don’t see that these two mental models are mutually exclusive. The data provide some form of evidence on certain inclinations. And it’s an input point on the consequence of your decision or as an assumption in the premise for your decision. Then, intuition can provide the context of the data. 

ARVIN: We reference it as a decision making approach driven through data and empathy. Sometimes, for example when you track a metric on a daily basis or weekly basis, you overreact quickly when you see there’s something impacting it. It’s really important to get a second lens on it, to ask the question to an expert. Or to go back to a data team and use data teams strategically.

SHIRLY: With data, there are a lot of potential biases to it. At OVO, how we’ve tried to adopt this approach of problem solving is really true hypothesis driven. That element of judgement and experience will have to come in to achieve true data-driven culture.

Q: Is data- decision making more of a speed bump, or an accelerator to you? 

VINCENT: To me, they actually go hand in hand. I think it’s more towards the process that matters. In cases where your data infrastructure is not yet set up, then indeed, you may want to consider, that will be the scenario where data will be a speed bump over there.

ARVIN: It’s about finding that balance. It’s fine to fast-track a business process by flying across it and going down the path quickly. But you might not be questioning some of the reasons why you’re doing something, or challenging if you’re doing it the right way, or being effective. It is quite dangerous without the data to create some speed bumps every now and then.

A couple years ago, we had limited technical resources to make a massive change to our platform. It was a big decision to make. But we made sure we went out there, did the analysis, gather the feedback, came back to the table with the leadership team, and made a call. Looking back now, could we have made that decision faster? Yes. But we did the right thing because it was so impactful to growing data-driven culture in the business. 

SHIRLY:  I think that it’s a necessary speed bump, especially when you’re launching products at this scale in this very competitive market. Sometimes, you tend to want to launch products faster, and then you overlook the certain facets of validation required, for example, customer research and your product roadmap.

Once you start launching and not seeing the results that you want, then you will start taking two steps back. So you could end up taking one step out but then taking two steps back afterwards. And it’s not just time that’s implicated here, it’s also cost and the opportunity cost that comes with it.

Want to hear more insights from Glints’ guests? Click here to see when our next event is coming up. 

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GlintsTalk is an independent employer event by Glints TalentHub that aims to educate employers about various HR and business-related topics. This event hopes to help leaders and professionals to grow their business in the most efficient way. We focus on maximising the potential of their employees in their everyday business practices.


Blk71 is a technology-focused ecosystem builder and global connector which catalyses and aggregates the start-up community. In Singapore, it spearheads new initiatives and provides mentorship and growth opportunities in key local, regional and global markets.