Analyze This: Is your company taking advantage of big data?

“Each of us is now a walking data generator.” –Andrew McAfee, Harvard Business Review

 

The term “big data” isn’t exactly a friendly one. It conjures up images of numbers ticking across a screen or servers churning away as they process terabytes of information. But the application of big data is incredibly personal. Data—and how it’s used—can help improve customer relations, streamline operations, or develop new products to meet market demands. Big data can give companies valuable information about internal operations (processes, employee engagement, communication efficiency). Or, it can boost external operations by streamlining advertising, enhancing customer experiences, or identifying inefficiencies. In short, big data can be converted to business intelligence.

No matter the size of your company or your operating budget, it is possible to put data at the center of your decision-making. A data-driven workplace reduces costs and operates more efficiently by putting an end to decision-making based on hunches and anecdotal evidence.

The solution, however, is NOT to throw money at big data systems and hope your company sees improvements. In order to take full advantage of data, your business will have to restructure itself to accommodate a new data-driven philosophy. Start by focusing on these three key areas:

1. Leadership

If a company is going to successfully put data at the core of its operations, the leadership has to be on board. In some cases, managerial teams will have to be trained to think about decision-making in a different way. In a data-driven company, the loudest voice or the highest paid person in the room isn’t the default decision maker. Instead, the process is more neutral and reliable, as it depends on collected data and analysis. As Andrew McAfee of the Harvard Business Review says in a recent article, “Smart leaders across industries will see using big data for what it is: a management revolution.”

What does a data-driven leader look like? This is a person who supports thoughtful, in-depth analysis and encourages decision-making based on findings. This is a person who is humble enough to realize that she may not have all the answers, or that her initial hunches may be proven incorrect by data analysis. Such a leader does not feel threatened by data-backed decisions, but embraces them as useful strategies that will potentially help the company.

2. A Robust IT Team

A company can purchase an expensive, top-of-the-line data analysis program, but if they do not also invest in a quality data analysis team, the investment will be almost worthless. Take the time to assemble an IT team that is well-versed in collecting, managing and analyzing data. These team members are essential to the decision-making process and have the potential to provide the keys to positive change.

Make sure these team members are supported in their roles. Check in with them frequently to see if they have the resources—tools, time, and support—to provide useful, in-depth analysis.

Above all, it is important to respect the findings of your data analysis team. Encourage honest, complete reports, not reports that are catered to highlight what the leadership wants to hear.

3. Incorporate data into the culture

A data-focused company integrates its philosophies into the workplace culture. Such a company encourages thoughtful decision-making at all levels, driven by evidence. Team meetings revolve around sharing data and developing ideas that stem from that data. Instead of relying on opinions and hearsay, team members who know the value of data will begin to ask “What do we know?” and “How can we apply that knowledge to our organization?”

To encourage this data-centric culture, it is useful to give employees the language and background they need to talk intelligently about data. Programs such as the Baldrige Excellence Framework can help company leadership understand the potential for data to improve customer relations and satisfaction, streamline systems, and encourage purposeful innovation.

 

Dive into data! The companies that focus on incorporating data-driven decision-making into their leadership, their IT department, and their company culture will begin making mindful decisions that can lead to huge successes. The potential for big data is huge. How will you begin to integrate data collection and analysis into your organization?


 

Want to talk data? I have experience in research, data collection, data management, and data analysis. I am also involved in conducting organizational evaluations against the Baldrige Excellence Framework. Contact me and let’s talk about how data can make a different in your organization.

Get People EXCITED About Your Business

Line Of Business People Listening To Presentation Seated At Glass Boardroom Table

Every company would love to be Apple, with their thousands of loyal customers and lines out the door whenever they put out a new product. The Apple phenomenon is incredible, considering there are plenty of other companies that do what they do (and sometimes do it better and for a cheaper price!). So, how do they drum up so much excitement? How do they motivate people to stand in line for hours to get their hands on the latest Apple offering?

Part of the answer has to do with the years of brand-building Apple has undertaken (and there’s no shortcut for that), but another part of their success comes from extensive research about their audience base and a skillful marketing plan.

Know your customer

Get familiar with your target customers by gathering market intelligence, conducting interviews or surveys, and analyzing data from sales campaigns and website traffic. Observe your competitors and notice what they’re doing effectively and what isn’t working. There are tons of great intelligence-gathering tools out there and PPS can help you get started.

Practice integrity

It’s more important than ever to build a company’s brand around transparency and trustworthiness. With online reviews, social media, and the ability of a news story to travel around the world within minutes, it’s crucial for your company to practice honesty and integrity. Take this principle a step further and actively involve your company in good works. Sponsor charitable events, encourage employees to volunteer in the community, or retrofit your company’s building to be more eco-friendly.

Build your credibility

Showcase your expertise by encouraging customer reviews and displaying testimonials and case studies on your website and literature. According to FirstRain.com, “Assembling reliable testimonials from authoritative sources or speaking to how an expert in the field uses the product can help customers understand that you can back the claims you’re making about the product.” Don’t forget to also show measureable results whenever you can.

Foster brand advocates

Your fans matter! Create a space for customers to advocate your brand through social media or online reviews. Forbes Magazine advises that engaging your company’s followers, encouraging feedback, or offering rewards for social sharing helps foster brand advocates. This kind of customer commitment makes people excited to be a part of your brand.

Let your own excitement shine through

If it wasn’t for the big dreams and perseverance of Apple’s founders, the company would not be what it is today. As thought leader and author Simon Sinek says in his TED Talk, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Let your vision be the centerpiece of your company’s marketing strategy.

Be memorable

What distinguishes your company from the pack? What do you offer that no one else does? What do you do best? Capitalize on your strengths and give your audience a reason to select you. Geoffrey James, contributing editor to Inc.com suggests adding emotion to your campaign to make it resonate with your audience on a more personal level. However you decide to market your company, make sure to keep your core values in sight and remain true to your company’s mission.

Creating excitement around a company takes planning, a clear vision, and a group of people who are enthusiastic and passionate about your company and its goals. Keep in mind that enthusiasm for your company probably won’t generate overnight, but a business that is built on integrity and excellence will likely find its success and maintain it for the long-term.

Let’s talk about creating excitement around your business! Reach out and contact me today.