Miguel Diaz

(Latin America) This article is about building the culture needed to become a data driven company. It is about the development of people capabilities, about empowerment, onboarding, and mindset building. 

I have gained most of my experience working for some of the biggest companies in the Colombian market. I have worked in the banking, health, telecom, retail, and government sectors. I am currently working for Rappi, the first Colombian unicorn and one of the fastest growing startups in Latin America. All these years I have been pushing intense data related products across various sectors and I have discovered the following:

  1. When working with algorithms, the key driver must be the problem, not the technique.

  2. When solving a problem, focus on the understanding of the process before implementing out of context solutions.

  3. To understand a process, you need to understand people’s daily tasks.

  4. To deal efficiently with people, you have to respect them and recognize their prior knowledge, if you don’t, your project may fail.

  5. Your solution must capture people’s insights. If they feel part of the construction of a solution, they will do better jobs.

  6. In big organizations, written processes by themselves won’t change the way people are used to work, a lot of communication strategies are needed to succeed.

  7. You need to empower people with the solution and to teach them how to use it.

  8. Technology might help you to shorten learning paths from years to months.

  9. Technology might help you clean dependencies and build self-sustaining solutions over time.

  10. Iterate to improve and do what you need to do to make the project/product better.

These 10 key points must be kept in mind when building intense data related products. They might help you to build a data driven company. But take into account that in big organizations, many of those projects are needed in order to accomplish a cultural transformation. The gap between a data driven company and an opinion driven company is culture. Culture is on people’s minds, it is about how people think and operate on a daily basis.

Transformation is about helping people to change their mindset and showing them how they can use tools to improve their daily operations. But to embrace this change people must be empowered, involved, and aware they are capable of using those solutions by themselves to handle their daily activities.

As CEO of an “opinion driven company,” you can hire consultants whose promise will be to “transform to a data driven one” in years, even many months, but the truth is that none of this will occur if they don’t point out culture as the main driver of change. They will probably start by building each one of those many products that help people on a daily basis, and that is valid, but if they don’t prioritize culture mindset building they will fail and you will have wasted money.

My advice that is based on years of experience will be to invest in people, not in one or two of them, but in all of your current people. Educate them, help them to think differently and start by yourself. There is no better sponsor than a CEO in a transformation project.

 

Miguel Diaz - diazmiguel.com

In addition to some articles that I have written. I have been building products for more than half a decade that facilitate decision-making for the directors of the largest companies in Colombia, startups, health entities, banks, telcos, even in various entities of the public sector. I want to share this knowledge with others.

It is my spare time I do Kitesurfing, longboarding, I co-organize the Apache Spark Bogotá community, the Apache Spark Mexico community, I am a mentor in Educamás, co-founder of maraka an educational project and aethos sport a sports project.

Currently I lead the Data team of Rappi Bank, our goal is to enable the analytical capabilities that we require to transform banking and along the way be an excellent team and therefore a benchmark in LATAM.