Data is amazing. Your enterprise should think so too

Build your enterprise data culture: T-Mobile’s top 10 strategies

You need to put the power of data into the people’s hands! You can have the most innovative data platform for your company, but if all the awesome remains in your development space alone, then your enterprise is missing out on the potential acceleration and benefits.

At T-Mobile, we drive successful engagement across the enterprise through strategies that can translate across many different products and systems.  At Collibra’s Accelerate your data strategy in 2021 digital event, we presented our best practices for building and scaling an engaging enterprise data program.

Nellie McBride (Senior Manager, Enterprise Data Governance) and Evangeline White (Technical Product Manager, Data Governance and Data Privacy), gave a detailed look at the EDGe (Enterprise Data Governance) platform’s success in its first year. Since its February 2020 launch, EDGe, using Collibra as a foundational tool, grew to:

  • 136 systems onboarded
  • 3,472 EDGe users
  • 424 Standard Business Terms
  • 93 Stewards

How did T-Mobile build such a successful program so quickly? Build a data-driven culture.

The crucial best practice is the importance of building a data-driven culture across the enterprise.

Engagement, adoption, evangelism and education is the foundation since day one, and remains a strategic daily focus. Below I detail T-Mobile’s 10 strategies for building a data-driven culture:

1. Create a universal starting experience.

To build a foundation where everyone starts using the tool in the same way, all of T-Mobile’s EDGe (Collibra) customers need to start with three foundational resources:

  • Training: Encourage customers to take the foundational training, helping all customers to get started in EDGe from a similar perspective.
  • Office hours: The Data Governance Office (DGO) offers a weekly, hour-long block where they encourage users to pop in with their questions. The team finds that people’s questions automatically train other users.
  • EDGe Portal: A one-stop SharePoint Portal that houses team contact information, training resources, and campaign information.

2. Be creative, memorable, and fun!

    Compelling branding, imagery, and personality drives awareness and demonstrates business value. For example, when the DGO started with the original data catalog, we referred to it as “a bicycle.” Now with EDGe and Collibra, they’ve upgraded the data experience to “a Ducati” or motorcycle. This visual representation helps remind customers of how we have elevated T-Mobile’s data governance platform.

    3. Ready for launch? Make it an event.

    Have something major to release? Hold a launch event to drive excitement and awareness.

    T-Mobile launched EDGe on Valentine’s Day, using a slogan from James Chang (Data Analyst) everywhere: “I’ve never meta-data I didn’t love.’”

    Bringing the DGO team together to get involved and help plan these events not only makes our team better, but it brings us new perspectives, helps us reach new audiences, and drives innovation.

    4. Offer your users a community, and then listen and learn.

    Launch a Slack channel or virtual community to help host resources and answer questions.

    The team originally launched an EDGe Slack channel as a team-driven place for people to ask questions about data at T-Mobile, how to find it, and who to contact.

    Now it’s an interactive, user-driven community of 1,600 people. Not only do users support each other, but the community also informs the EDGe platform’s direction, such as revealing new user needs to meet, or opportunities for building data sets.

    5. Meet up with your experts (and don’t forget the snacks)!

    When you bring people together, everyone learns something new. The DGO already had weekly office hours where users could bring their questions or just listen and learn, but Scott Kratz (Principal Product Manager) also wanted to host a regular event where subject-matter experts presented hot data topics. The team added snacks, and the Data & Doritos events became a huge success.

    People still love this, even a year and a half later!

    6. Game on! Incentives drive engagement.

    Be creative, games are a great way to help users discover how to search EDGe. It’s a fun way to learn, and later when they need to search for their data, they know how. When the team launched EDGe, they hosted a Data & Donuts event: an invitation to come get coffee and a donut, and see an EDGe demo. After the event, the team “hid” donut names throughout the EDGe platform. For example, users searched EDGe to find a maple bar, then leveraged technical capabilities like Workflow to let the team know that they found it, and win swag!

    In October, the team sponsored a Trick-or-Treat event, where they hid the EDGe Team’s favorite candies in the tool. To draw extra attention, they temporarily changed the UI from T-Mobile magenta to a festive orange. Both of these events drew new EDGe users and drove record-breaking platform visit numbers!

    7. Empower self-service.

    Host a hackathon and empower your users to discover the value for themselves. As EDGe grew quickly, more stakeholders wanted to house metadata and business glossaries in the tool. So we built a Self-Service program, supporting motivated stakeholders to leverage EDGe’s power outside of the current roadmap. This broadens the range of problems the platform can help solve, helps the team understand the user’s needs even better, and extends the platform’s visibility within the enterprise.

    In one example, one of EDGe’s data stewards leveraged the self-service program, and he learned how to stand up a dashboard to support Datapalooza, T-Mobile’s annual hack-a-thon. With the team’s support, he built the entire dashboard and all data sets for the event. Within three days, the dashboard hosted 1,600 visits. Behold, the power of self-service!

    8. Address issues that matter.

    Show the value of your program by making an impact on your company. T-Mobile leverages EDGe to partner with the Diversity and Inclusion team to dismantle offensive language within the enterprise, like blacklist, master, and slave. One of the first initiatives uses EDGe to find, replace, and steward against the future use of offensive words within our systems.

    9. Your users are your best advocates!

    Leverage early adopters and power users to help drive awareness and adoption. These users already realize the value of the program in their own roles, have helped spread the word to new users, and have helped us drive awareness of the program internally. Presenting prospective stakeholders with the reactions of your own users tells a great story. Here are a few examples:

    • “It has all the information I need to find the various sources of information for my queries. It is also constantly being improved.” -Analyst
    • “This [EDGe] is an EXCELLENT thing! Wanted desperately to have this on the legacy Sprint side. As a legacy Sprint architect, this will be invaluable! Did not know it existed.” – Principal Architect Solutions
    • “Thank you! I really appreciate the way [Data Dictionaries] are set up. I was able to identify the table much faster, and related tables were nicely organized right there with it.” -EDGe user
    • “The Enterprise Data Governance team is a wonderful resource to bring together the fragmented data environment at T-Mobile. This team has worked tirelessly to bring company-wide tools to life like the data catalog, business glossary, reference data and many other tools. Furthermore, the governance process set up by the team will lead T-Mobile to a much more stable data environment.” -Director, Business Analysis Customer Car

    10. With a firm foundation, you’re ready to scale!

      Use these foundational programs and tactics to grow and engage your audience.

      As T-Mobile integrates with Sprint, bringing in a wave of new users and systems, EDGe has to immediately scale up to handle new needs. EDGe is critical for new T-Mobile employees as they leverage it to learn more about T-Mobile data and systems. In just a few months, over 700 legacy Sprint teammates used EDGe.


      As we head into EDGe’s second year, we’re excited to innovate on these approaches, push the boundaries of our program, and continue to drive a successful data-driven culture at T-Mobile.

      Want to learn more about T-Mobile's data program?

      Watch their full session on scaling an enterprise data program

      Want to learn more about T-Mobile's data program?

      Watch their full session on scaling an enterprise data program

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