Data: numbers, words, bytes. The term conjures many images in the mind. We interact with data in many meaningful ways, yet we overlook the real impact of this relationship. Data has entwined itself with the fibres of society and continues to shape the way we see and interact with our world.

Working with data is not simply a matter of what we create with it, but an entirely new way to capture our world. We use it to document trends and conversations about art and culture. Data has become a medium within itself, drawing creatives to analyze and represent information in an artful way. We can construct entire value systems around data and its use.

Data Culture: shaping values around data

If the above examples of creativity give you nothing else, they should inspire you to embrace data and the vast open source resources available. While there are many places we can embrace data, the most compelling and beneficial is at the level is in the workplace.

In the age of the tech start up, newer companies are often said to have the advantage of being born in the age of data. Many of them were founded with an inherent knowledge of analytics and open source shared data while traditional companies predating the digital age often still see data as a tool.

So how can you best position your organization for using data to ensure maximum benefits?

Data as a representation of culture and social trends

The popularity surrounding data has seen an exciting trend. Data has become a way of documenting our times, an endless resource for future generations of digital archaeologists seeking to understand and document global trends and changes over time. Let’s look at a few brilliant examples.

RawGraphs created a comprehensive and eye catching documentation of musical groups on wikidata in July 2017.

Two-N captured global gender inequalities around the world through this engaging interactive infographic in 2016. (http://projects.two-n.com/world-gender/)

Earlier this year, Information is Beautiful captured the dietary restrictions in Judaism and Islam, exploring how they converge and how they are different with this beautiful visualization.

If the above examples reveal anything, it’s the incredible variety to what data analytics and visualization can do. All you need is something to capture, a means to capture it and some genuine creativity and you can spawn wonders.

Earlier this year, Information is Beautiful captured the dietary restrictions in Judaism and Islam, exploring how they converge and how they are different with this beautiful visualization.

If these examples reveal anything, it’s the incredible variety to what data analytics and visualization can do. All you need is something to capture, a means to capture it and some genuine creativity and you can spawn wonders.

Data as an art form

The creative aspects of data design switch the conversation to that of data as an art in and of itself. We need to consider not only the wonderful pieces of data design being published and their aesthetic appeal, but also the deeper conversations around how data is designed and what is popular.

While not popularly known, the idea of data art is by no means a new one. The idea of merging science, information and technology to create art has infatuated us for a long time. Techcrunch cites Kynaston McShine’s 1970 exhibition titled “information” as an early influencer. Today the concept today is more accessible than ever, with incredible pieces combining insightful analysis and research with stunning visual aesthetic.

We saw some wonderful examples above, but here’s another: Federica Fragapane’s “Sky Map,” which projects the world as seen by a pilot.

Data design has its own awards ceremony. The Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards celebrate excellence and achievement in data design and infographic creation. These Awards demonstrate how actively data design and its practices and trends are discussed and celebrated.

We can also consider trends in data design, with interactive inforgraphics, infoGIFs and 3D illustrations among the most popular infographic designs. Data design is slowly taking over how we communicate, express ourselves and tell stories.

Data Culture: shaping values around data

If the above examples of creativity give you nothing else, they should inspire you to embrace data and the vast open source resources available. While there are many places we can embrace data, the most compelling and beneficial is at the level is in the workplace.

In the age of the tech start up, newer companies are often said to have the advantage of being born in the age of data. Many of them were founded with an inherent knowledge of analytics and open source shared data while traditional companies predating the digital age often still see data as a tool.

So how can you best position your organization for using data to ensure maximum benefits?

3 Hot tips for developing a data culture

1. Share a single source
Begin by establishing and developing a single, regularly maintained source of data for your entire organization to share. This ensures consistency within your entire organization, helping you avoid what techcrunch describes as the “he said-she said scenario” where teams are siloed in their data aggregating practices and unable to unify their data insights.

2. Build organization-wide competency
If you want your organization to reap the benefits of a data-driven culture, start training your staff in the basics of data collection, analysis and interpretation. If your staff is to be analyzing data on a regular basis, they should be well versed in the principles of data analytics and able to glean insights independently. The more people in your organization with data literacy, the more you can take advantage of data-driven insights.

3. Know what can be quantified and start measuring
Establish what aspects of your business can be measured. If you intend to use data insights to drive your business forward, you should have an inventory of what can be measured. Once you’ve established this, start measuring and reaping the rewards!