We often take for granted the major advantages of living in the information age. For hundreds of years of human history, the ability to gleam new information or make discoveries was slow, difficult, and often only accessible by certain people. Since the expansion of technology, the rise of smartphones, and the IoT of nearly everything around us, we are saturated by more information and data than we could ever use or learn in one lifetime.
So how can companies make enough sense of an ocean of data to influence better decision making? The answer is multi-fold, but comes down to knowing what questions you want to answer by gathering data and how you will organize that information to draw broader conclusions about what’s working and what’s not.
Businesses have transformed during the data revolution, gathering more information on people and their behaviors than ever before with the intention of making more decisions driven by data trends. While you could write books full of the ways technology and data have brought greater efficiency to every industry on the planet, companies are still running around, trying to get a grip on just what to do with all this data.
What’s possible in data analytics today gives us an all-new perspective on how to stay safe, perform better, and cope with rapid changes. We rely on technology’s ability to capture data to help us, as a species, perform better, faster, and with more flexibility. For example, the recent rise of cloud technologies pushes the boundaries on what legacy tools fail to provide, the ability to scale and keep up with the growing needs of businesses. In this, the development of technology and the analytics that follow are inexplicitly linked, and we should utilize them as such.
What is data culture? Simply put, it’s the shared belief and behaviors of people in an organization that prioritize data-driven decision making through every day process. If done successfully, data becomes a guiding light for tackling daunting challenges and roadblocks, so much so that data becomes the foundation of that organization’s approach, identity, and operations.
Seems easy enough, right? While we can all appreciate clearly presented data with meaningful insights, there is not always a clearly defined path to get there. It starts with determining what kind of culture your organization presently leans towards. In consensus culture, the need to get everyone on the team onboard can slow progress and create conflict with people on the fence when making certain decisions. In another example, hierarchical culture is where decisions ultimately funnel through a bottleneck of leadership, reducing innovation and again, slowing down progress.
Ideally, if you’re able to harness the best technology tools and software, data culture differs in that it “empowers people to ask questions, challenge ideas, and rely on concrete insights and not just intuition or instinct…to make tough decisions.” Supported by the power of data, shared goals can become clear and easier to buy into.
We’ve talked a big talk about the potential outcomes of embracing data-driven decision making (DDDM). But why should even the smallest businesses care about mastering their data? The answer is simple: the ability to make more robust decisions more quickly. (If you thought of the word pivot, congrats you were properly socialized in 2020.) Research has shown that organizations that churn data to gain insights are three times more likely to achieve double-digit growth. Now that’s really a correlation.
Imagine you’re at a presentation with two different companies, both trying to sell you a product. One company has testimonials, but also presents statistics and facts measuring the rate of customer success after buying their product. The other just presents testimonials, and states they know how much customers love their product without indicating how often people come back or what they would rate the product six months later. It’s likely you’d feel more confident in the presentation including data, not just because of the facts offered, but because that company took the time to understand if their product was truly successful or not.
If you’re still not convinced, data cultures are even known to boost employee retention and engagement. People work better when they know what goals they’re working towards and where their company stands. The practice of being honest, internally and externally, creates greater trust, and therefore, engagement. Organizations of all sizes can cut through the noise and use what’s already at their fingertips to inform what didn’t work before, where there were gaps, and where to go next.
Over 90% of companies in a survey about making business decisions replied that DDDM is critical to growing and improving their business, yet only 57% of those companies said that they actually based their business decisions on their data. If you feel overwhelmed by finding the best way to capture the data you may already have, a good place to start is figuring out what questions you need answered.
What issues are persistent? Where have your services fallen short for your clients and how could that be improved? Why has your organization struggled to meet goals in hiring for greater diversity? Every industry has specific pain points, or repeated roadblocks that prevent progress. Know that tackling the data issue will shed light on these challenges and reduce the risk of decisions going wrong.
After you’ve identified what topics you need more insight on, consider the different buckets those questions or topics fall into. Can your company’s data answer financial questions like what’s the most cost-effective way to hire new staff? Or on approaching growth, asking how to bring new products to customers or improve on customer loyalty? It’s all part of developing a data strategy, or the prioritization process of sorting and organizing data to create new insights.
So far we’ve demonstrated that big data has big potential. Businesses using big data experienced a profit increase of 8–10%, and a 10% reduction in overall cost. We could throw more numbers at you, but the bottom line is that real-time data can become a critical business-defining asset. In tech, continuous development and improvement are tenants of success and organizational flexibility. Applying that principal to collecting and analyzing data reflects back on a company’s ability to advance their operations, processes, and new products continuously.
Take the recent example of new platforms aimed at increasing diversity in organizations and bring greater equity to the hiring process. While none of the new software programs or platforms are totally perfect, many of the ideas behind them have great potential. Overall, the goal is to better use data to discover where diverse candidates fall-out of, or are excluded from, the process of hiring. If we can better measure what’s really happening, we can better confront the root of those issues together.
Finally, the number one takeaway from this conversation on the case for data is increasing your business’s adaptability and willingness to make informed decisions based on facts. Data can bring greater transparency and accountability, allowing every team member to be a stakeholder and dig into the company’s vision. Data-driven cultures foster easier communication, team cohesion, and role clarity. In short, every modern company should want to make data their best friend, or certainly a higher priority finishing this year and moving into 2022.
Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.
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