Data Culture Blog 1

Let’s talk about data culture. WT=(f) does it even mean? I went on a quest to determine exactly this, and how the minority of businesses and institutions, and even countries have made it work.

I first encountered what we would term (in the modern definition) a “data culture” when I took up an opportunity to work for a startup in the small Baltic country of Estonia in 2018. Long story short – Estonia has managed to digitize 99% of their governance. Before the infamous term of “digital transformation” was even being considered, the Estonian government elected that they are to secure their country’s sovereignty by switching to a digital government and ID system encrypted to the hilt.  The goal and also the bait for the adoption of the technology by the people was to enable the Estonian public to vote online. This was in 1997.

Estonia consists of about 1,3 million folks, and about thirty something percent reside in the capital, and its economy used to be based on logging. Side fact: Estonia is basically a forest. In and around 1994, they gained independence from Soviet Russia, and they made a choice: Either inherit the soviet mechanism of government or create their own version of what a government should be. They elected to trash the old and redesign their government and secure their future by embracing technology and sowed the seeds of a data culture which I experienced firsthand.

Taavi Kotka, Former Estonian Chief Information Officer said: “We had to set a goal that resonates large enough for the society to believe in”. This is vital, and it is up to leaders of any business to understand this to establish the groundwork for a  data-driven digital culture.