09th Apr 2018, 06:27
While going with your gut-driven instincts is a time-tested way of making decisions, in the long run, the best ideas are those that come from data, and there’s plenty of it. In fact, Gartner estimates that big data will be worth $18.3 billion by the end of the year and $22.8 billion by 2020.
Even the smallest decision can and should be data-based no matter if you're running Amazon or a small startup. That’s because data, when analyzed and utilized, can help you remain more competitive, cost-effective, and agile. As W. Edwards Deming, the patron saint of the quality movement, said, “Without data, you’re simply another person with an opinion."
The good news is that there’s plenty of data out there and plenty of ways to analyze it. So, how do you make sure that you’re one of the 37% of senior corporate executives who have successfully created a data-driven company culture?
The first step is to establish a strategy for creating a data-driven company. Data-driven decision-making must be accepted and fostered by your entire organization. Every department from marketing to product, sales, engineering, and others must recognize the value of data and how it can be used to improve their work processes. This requires a new company strategy.
Once everyone understands the benefits of data-driven decision-making, you can then start figuring out the strategy for your company.
Figure Out Your KPI
Before you can make data-driven decisions, you need to figure out the right data to gather and analyze. Truthfully, there’s a universe of data out there and the volume of information is only continuing to grow. In this case, bigger is not always better. You want to collect the metrics that matter to your success. If you know what you’re measuring, then you can determine how to collect it
To determine your key performance indicators (KPIs) for each department, you should go back to your goals. Choose KPIs that have an immediate impact on those goals so you can see how it positively or negatively affects it.
For example, let’s say your marketing department has the goal to increase their MQLs (marketing qualified leads) by 15 percent in the first quarter. You’ll want to use a lead tracking software (such as TrackMaven) to see where leads are in your marketing funnel and how they got there. This data will be invaluable once you know how to leverage it—the next step
Leverage the Data
Once you know what data to collect based on your KPIs, you then need to leverage it. This means being able to analyze the numbers and information, within context, to make decisions and recommendations. This is typically not something you can do on your own with raw data. You want to get it into a format that everyone can understand. You’ll also want to utilize data across departments and operations, so it unifies your business. To do this you’ll need to sync the data with your day-to-day processes and norms, so it feels natural and not alien.
To do this, it can be as simple as embedding analytics and simple tool into the front lines, so that your employees can make data-driven decisions immediately. You should also hold monthly or quarterly meetings that review the data to ensure that everyone is one the same page moving forward.
Ensure that every team member in your organization is on board with the technology you’ll be using to gather and analyze the data and that they know how to use it. This requires training in the software or platform that has been approved by the company—using the same platform across all departments is key to business continuity.
When training your employees, keep in mind that they’re more likely to stick with the program if they’re excited about it. Try techniques such as gamifying the training by tracking high scores or providing rewards to engaged participants. And post-training, ensure that your managers follow up with all employees on a weekly and monthly basis to ensure that the data is being collected and used appropriately.
Finally, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to take advantage of automated data tools. There are many software companies out there that can do most of the work for you, allowing you to focus more on running your company.
Some examples include:
Becoming a data-driven company won’t happen overnight, but if executed carefully with targeted efforts, you can adjust your company culture while maintaining the flexibility you currently enjoy. That flexibility is critical for managing and analyzing big data and using it effectively for superior decision-making.