Analytics. Data science. Words and phrases like these tend to conjure up imagery of guys in thick glasses poring over stacks of spreadsheets with the smell of stale coffee permeating the office. But today’s data and analytics teams couldn’t be farther from the caricatures that we make of them. And the truth is, when you discover just what’s possible, it can be hard not to be excited about it!
So how do you get even the biggest technology trilobite in your office to not only embrace analytics, but share in your enthusiasm? Here are a few ways to make the whole idea of data science a lot more tempting.
Understand the Underlying Problems – Then Solve Them
Companies in nearly every sector, from B2B to B2C to B2B2C and everything in between has their reasons – good reasons – for wanting to keep their heads in the sand when it comes to analytics. Sales teams often don’t see the revenue needle budge enough to make it worth their attention.
Managers are busy managing and don’t have the time to trudge up a high learning curve, much less understand the data enough to make confident decisions using it. And even key decision makers are slow to adopt a culture of analytics because the protocols for decision-making are…you guessed it, made by committee.
The fact is, no field is changing or adapting faster than data science, and, much in the same way that the Internet revolutionized the way we communicate and do business, analytics are changing the way we make decisions, engage customers, develop products and much more. It’s as much an integral part of a successful business as having a commerce-enabled website was over a decade ago.
That means that yes, some jobs may have to be redesigned, some outdated protocols overhauled and some focuses shifted to accommodate the rapid growth of analytics.
Companies that embrace this chameleon-like adaptation are the ones who truly leverage the greatest benefits from data science and analytics. Those who fail to see its potential will continue to struggle as their competitors gain greater and greater data-backed insights.
In short, it’s uncomfortable but necessary to change.
Embracing the Democratization of Data
One of the biggest terms making the rounds in the data science world is the “democratization” of data. In other words, taking it out of the hands of the analytics geeks and putting it squarely in the hands of everyone from executives to managers to customer service and even the janitorial staff (okay, maybe not that last one). New tools and SaaS platforms are being developed and deployed faster than ever, and today’s data scientists can use visualization tools to map out different scenarios. Things like predictive analytics show everyone models of what can happen with the current data they’ve collected, so that new campaigns, new product ideas and overall business growth can happen in a way that’s both impactful and scalable.
And did I mention that all of this can be done without a single line of code?
But before you think I’m throwing data scientists and analytics gurus under the bus, keep in mind that they are still very, very pivotal and crucial to the entire organization. It’s their guidance that will lead to embracing the democratization of data on a much wider scale. Getting everyone used to and comfortable with the data leads to greater understanding and confidence. Greater confidence leads to excitement and uncovers new opportunities that one person or team alone may not have considered.
And knowing that, why would you want to restrict yourself by leaving all your analytics decisions in the hands of a few, when you can enjoy much greater insights and data-backed determinations when it’s in the hands of everyone?
Getting to the Large-Scale Benefits
One of the biggest issues that companies struggle with in their journey to become more data driven is getting to the large scale benefits. It’s one thing to comb through the data and get a few novel nuggets that can give you a slight conversion or revenue lift. It’s another thing entirely to try and revamp an entire company’s or organization’s structure from the inside out. It’s overwhelming and pretty much impossible, which puts a lot of people off adopting an analytics culture company-wide.
In these cases, start small. Start with the departments or areas that you feel could see the biggest benefit from analytics insights. Make sure to keep others in the loop through proper communication channels such as newsletters or email lists. Be patient. Remember, just a few short years ago, articles like this one were more focused on getting C-Suite buy-in than trying to transform an entire company culture.
Another common complaint is the use of tools. In many cases, companies invest in analytics tools but vendors are unable to accurately demonstrate how said tools integrate with the existing workflow. If the sales staff can’t understand it or advocate for it, they won’t use it – plain and simple. Whichever analytics tools you choose to adopt, make sure that they’re ones that can easily adapt to your existing processes – not the other way around.
Why Most Companies Get Bogged Down in the Analytical Mud
Many companies looking to embrace a data-driven culture (more on that below), look toward hugely profitable mega-corporations like Amazon and Facebook.
But these companies, in the overall spectrum of things, are relatively new and were built from the ground up on a culture of analytics. They can adapt quickly because it’s in their DNA.
For companies not rooted in data science at their core, the shift is going to happen gradually – starting with the departments suited to be most affected by it. It may even necessitate a change from the inside out – how decisions are made, who’s responsible and what’s the end goal. For example, if you invest in a data-driven module to help with dynamic pricing and items start to sell out quicker, you can’t very well hold your inventory managers responsible for it. Shifting to more data-driven decisions means changing how things are done – perhaps even drastically.
But by demonstrating how much more streamlined their job can become and their decisions can be made, people will begin to become more accustomed to using analytics information in their respective departments. As changes are implemented and new insights gleaned from the information, people begin looking for new angles and ways to use the data to further empower their staff and colleagues. It also helps improve their job security, their relationship with customers and the ease and confidence with which they do their job.
Become a Truly Data-Driven Company
Carnegie-Mellon recently conducted a LEAP study which determined that those companies getting the most out of analytics were those whose leaders concentrated on “team collaboration, along with the ability to easily share insights [thereby] instilling confidence in their teams and creating an active analytics community across all departments.” Much of this collaboration comes from self-service tools, which can be completed for specific industry verticals and niches and be deployed much quicker than an over-arching software program.
But becoming a truly data-driven company involves both tools and people – not focusing on one to the exclusivity of the other. As members of the company begin to learn and leverage analytical insights, their enthusiasm and knowledge start to spread out in a ripple-effect to other departments. It won’t happen overnight, but gradually, over time as people become more comfortable and attuned to how analytics can be used in their little corner of the company, they’ll begin to embrace and rely on the data to power their decisions more and more.
How are you using analytics to help encourage others in your company? Are you becoming driven by data, or is it an uphill climb against a more traditional workflow? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!