Three requirements for building successful data capacity

05 Dec 2017

  • Analytics
  • Business intelligence
  • Skills
  • Data

Building data capacity goes well beyond the technology piece. Natalie Evans Harris, former Senior Policy Advisor to the US Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration, who also spent 16 years with the National Security Agency, talks about the  three key requirements for building data capacity - data literacy, infrastructure and policies.

Watch the video now or read the transcript below.

Too often, when we think about data capacity we're just thinking about the technology well if I just buy that one tool then all of my problems are solved - and it's so much bigger than that. What you need to make sure in order for an organization to be data-driven is that your people are literate in the data; that you're forming diverse teams and that your data literacy is not just focused on the data scientist but across your whole organization as a continuum.

Data literacy

What we learned at NSA when I was working there was that the best way for people to understand the value of data is when they're having to think about it from the way that they use it at their desk. So you don't have to teach them R or Python, instead you teach them about ways that they can leverage the data and the interesting questions they can ask about it. So, the data literacy piece is really important.

Infrastructure and technology

Then you want to think about the infrastructure and you want to think about what technology is needed that make that data accessible. The relationship between the chief data officer and the chief information officer is absolutely critical in these types of situations because you need a strong IT infrastructure that can get the data into the hands of the individuals. So, if there's competition or tension between the two that prevents that data from being accessible, then you're not harnessing that power and you're actually restricting it. Why collect it?


Then you have to think about the policies that are put in place as well. Are your policies actually encouraging sharing, communication, and collaboration around the data? So often because we haven't built the trust and understanding around what the data can do, we put policies in place that actually restrict. Restrict in ways that prevent the data from being used in useful manners, versus putting policies in foot in place that can manage the situation to consider to still be able to value that data.
So, if you think about your organisations and you think about your capacity building, you not only examine the technology, but you also examine your policies and you examine what you're doing to support the people using the data that's where you really start to ingrain data into your culture and into your business making processes.