For the greater part of the modern era, data in organizations has only been readily available to two privileged groups: executives who rely upon data to run the business, and data analysts who gather, analyze and report the numbers to management. No self-respecting worker at any level of any organization in the world today would argue with the supposition that a data-driven organization will be more successful than a non-data-driven organization.
Thus, the majority of successful brands find that some form of analytics powers every decision they make. From the strategic to the tactical, a single valid data point can mean the difference between success and failure.
Clearly, a solid analytics practice is a competitive differentiator. But if I asked you, “What percentage of workers in your organization who could do their jobs better if they had data to assist them actually has that data?,” most likely the number you would answer with would be embarrassingly low.
Why is that?
Truthfully, there are many reasons. But almost none of them are good reasons. This is the age of analytics democratization. In fact, access to new tools allows more employees than ever in the history of business to leverage valuable data to help the bottom line.
But many don’t know how to ensure everyone is reaping the benefits of this data deluge. Here are a few steps to help build your data strategy and propel your organization forward.
Assess your analytics maturity
Brands shouldn’t expect everyone in their organization to be an analytics expert. It’s crucial for a company to assess who has the most experience and skills in the realm of data analysis and optimization, and who might need a bit of hand-holding.
Think of your analytics practice as a mountain with both steep inclines and easy hikes. Close to the summit, where the data scientists and analysts will no doubt climb to, you’ll find predictive algorithms, machine learning and data science. At the base, where the analytics newbies will be roaming, you’ll find simple dashboards and easy-to-interpret drag-and-drop analysis tools.
It’s important to be realistic about which employees need more support and who can fend for themselves in the analytics wilderness. Once you know where your team stands, it’s imperative to train team members to raise their hands, ask questions of the more advanced users and constantly challenge themselves to increase the sophistication of the analytics they rely upon for their roles, so everyone can move the brand forward with analytics.
Evangelize, especially with executives
Without executive sponsorship, any program is destined to languish. For this reason, many organization-wide analytics programs struggle.
When you roll out new reports, dashboards or tools, be sure to train employees at every level — including key stakeholders such as executives, and even board members.
Celebrate the big wins, and evangelize the value of the program to demonstrate how sharing data can lead to cross-pollination of ideas and actions across the organization. Finally, show how the goals of each team ladder up to the overall objectives of the organization.
Without accountability, the notion of democratized analytics is a delusion. Transparency will keep people up-to-date on an organization’s overarching strategy, and knowing who’s working on what will prevent overlap.
Accountability also fosters a culture of shared responsibilities. Always set clear expectations, clarify the role of each team member, and give people the ability to use data to help them make decisions and put their ideas to work.
Share all relevant data assets with everyone involved — allowing everyone in the company to be aware of areas in the customer journey that are underperforming, as well as successes, so everyone knows what’s working and what isn’t.
Align analytics and inspire storytellers
When everyone is well aware of the company strategy, it drives action that is in alignment with key performance indicators. Alignment also ensures that if (and when) the business gets off track from reaching your agreed-upon business goals, everyone recognizes it together.
Be sure to present the data in a context everyone will find meaningful. Those who prepare the data should be challenged to discover and tell the story in the data and help the organization move from insights to action.
As your organization shifts away from old-school data scarcity to an analytics democracy, intuition-driven marketing will give way to data-driven decision-making based on valuable insights.
You can help usher in this new era of efficiency and optimization by fostering an environment where people can learn and act on their insights. As you do, teams will solve age-old problems in innovative ways, and people across the organization will feel empowered to create those incredible customer experiences every brand is talking about.