The data deluge has arrived, and the world is overflowing with new and potentially valuable information. Yet, we are at a crossroads.
Organizations have access to big data that can transform their cultures for the better, but they don’t know what to do with it. Far too often, potentially insightful data is ignored out of fear, ego or pure disorganization.
Before we go further, let’s define big data. According to David McJannet, vice president of marketing for Hortonworks, in an article for Information Week, here’s a practical take: “Big data is about building new analytic applications based on new types of data in order to better serve your customers and drive a better competitive advantage.” McJannet doesn’t mention company culture, but it’s as critical a business benefit of big data as any.
Businesses have access to more data about their operations than ever before, but most organizations use only a fraction of it to achieve tangible business results.The primary reason for this is that data doesn’t lie and tends to reveal unpopular truths. Humans performing the analysis often pass over what they don’t want to see and select data that supports a favored direction.
Whether your analytics technology touches every aspect of your business or you're limited to the free version of Google Analytics, here are six ways you can leverage your data to enhance your culture by leaps and bounds:
1. Target and share. The questions we ask our analytics program are often numbers-focused, and it’s all about the formulas. But measurement for the sake of measurement won’t do you a drop of good. As with any major strategy, your analytics approach should begin with the important cultural question you want to answer. Then you can effectively devise an analytical methodology that will address this issue. Once the data starts to come in, don’t hoard it. Distribute it to different departments and individuals so that a richer picture of the results emerges.
2. Let go of hierarchy. In his recent article for the Financial Times, Richard Walters says that in order to take full advantage of big data, personal working styles have to be overhauled—starting at the top. Managers accustomed to making gut decisions have to learn the humility that comes from being led by the data. This might mean that a junior analyst has a better handle on the best solution than a senior manager does. To ease the ego blows, reiterate big data’s benefits to your senior team. For instance, it relieves uncertainty and allows an organization to be more competitive.
For more advice, check out the full post at the AMEX Open Forum.