One of the many benefits of agile marketing is increased transparency. This not only helps increase communication and understanding, but also it provides managers with more data to help make better decisions. However, as teams develop and execute plans to put this data to work most find themselves in a situation of being of not knowing what to do with all this information.
So how do organizations take advantage of all this data they are collecting? Well, in a Harvard Business Article, Make Data Work Throughout Your Organization, authors Thomas Redman and David Walker suggest four steps to help organizations use data more effectively.
Focus on collecting quality data
First and foremost, it’s important to focus on the quality of data. The data you are collecting here serves as the foundation on which all other decisions are based on, so you want to always be looking for ways to improve upon it. Redman and Walker also reiterate the importance of having a continued focus on always improving the data. While this is the “first step”, you don’t ever want it to “end”. The two point out the importance of making “sure the data are properly, clearly and consistently defined across the organization.” You want to make sure everyone has the same definition of what they’re collecting. This way you can ensure an “apples to apples” cross-departmental comparison.
Establish data collection to dollars processes
Once you’ve established efficient quality data gathering techniques, Redman and Walker talk about establishing procedures to put this data to work across the organization. It’s here that you want to “include processes to deliver more to customers; to repeatedly and forever seek hidden truths in data; and to seek out novel data and integrate them with existing data into a more potent whole.” Redman and Walker correctly point out that while the technical challenges here are bountiful they are nothing in comparison to the challenge of defining and managing the processes to link data from (disparate) cost and revenue centers, and conducting analyses.
It all boils down to the people
Collecting the most accurate data will do you no good if you fail to invest in quality people to incorporate it in their decision making process. While high-powered analytics people seem to be always in short supply, what’s more staggering is the fact that the “U.S. alone faces a shortage of roughly ten analytically-competent manager for each deep analyst.” Learning to correct bad habits of managers who have grown accustomed to managing on the fly and educate those who feel threatened by data is a great step forward. It’s not easy, but most important things aren’t. It’s time to start incorporating data driven managers in your team.
Show people how much more effective they can be by incorporating data into more of their decisions. It is a slow process, but as you start seeing more people accept and adopt data into their decision making process will start spurring better, more confident decisions. Once you start to see this change take root, Redman and Walker suggest making a conscious effort to look for new opportunities to improve upon those individuals work and engage with others on larger, more complex issues. It’s important to remember that a more capable team naturally produces better results and as the idea of a data-driven culture spreads more broadly throughout an organization its ability to take bold, innovative action on larger challenges grow. The key is to remember the deeper and more ingrained your organization’s data-driven culture becomes, the more successful you’ll be at tackling new and difficult challenges.