All throughout your business, you have to make dozens or even hundreds of decisions on a daily basis. How are the members of your different teams making those decisions? Ideally, you want them to be using data to shape those critical decisions every time there is a choice to be made. Rather than going after solutions arbitrarily, you can use data to help shape your interactions with your customers, creating more effective processes that will be more likely to help you reach your goals. In today’s analytical world, having a data driven team can be the difference between a thriving and growing business or watching your competition take over your industry.
Why Use Data?Your business takes in a large quantity of data every single day. You're sending out customer surveys to learn more about what your customers really want, observing customer buying behaviors both online and in person, and even developing insights from third-party research. All of that data can go a long way in shaping your business’ behavior towards your customers and deepening your understanding of what they truly need and want from your company.
Collecting and using the right data - that is, data that includes a representative sample of your population and which has been collected efficiently, analyzed for correlation and causation, and correlated with other market information - can help answer a number of key business questions. Effective data analysis will help you improve customer satisfaction, answer questions, and help increase your return on investment for marketing, product creation, and much more. A data driven team also analyzes outcomes to determine success, failure, and how to help shape future decisions more effectively.
How to Create a Data Driven TeamOnce you have discovered the importance of data (hopefully at least by now), you want to get your entire team on board. In order to create an effective, data driven team, you need every employee to embrace the new company culture and better understand your company goals. If you are really ready to create a data driven team within your business, these steps will help.
Step One: Start with the Right EmployeesIn many cases, there may already be members of your team who are highly data driven. They understand the importance of analyzing the numbers before they make critical decisions, from purchasing choices to which marketing strategy to pursue. If you don't have members of your existing team who are dedicated to understanding how data can drive vital decisions, you may benefit from bringing in individuals who have those skills and can help teach them to your team. If you do have existing team members who excel at data analysis and implementation, make them part of the process from the beginning to observe how it can change the face of your company culture.
Without fully buy in from your team, you will never truly be able to create a data driven team or a culture of data in your business.
Step Two: Define Your MeasurementsWhether you are talking about data driven content marketing or analyzing the customer response to your latest product release, it is important to define the measurements and terms that you are using. In order to let data drive decisions throughout your company, your employees need to know:
- What information is being collected?
- How is the information being analyzed?
- Which performance indicators are being used to assess success and failure?
- How is the information that has been collected currently impacting company decisions, and how should that data impact decisions made in the future?
Step Three: Define Your Company GoalsAll the data in the world is useless unless you know how it is shaping the decisions made by your company as a whole. Ideally, you want to set out both company wide goals and specific goals for each department or section of the company. How do your company goals align with the data that you have collected? How can that data help shift priorities or make decisions that will help meet those goals?
By defining them clearly, it's possible to bring the entire company onto the same page with their decision making efforts - and that means less competition between departments. Sounds like a win-win to us!
Step Four: Give Everyone AccessData transparency is a critical part of creating a data driven team that is able to interact effectively with the data that has been collected. In many companies, that might not be the instinctive response to data collection. All too often, information is hoarded, rather than being shared freely. If you want a data driven team within a culture that relies on that data to make important decisions, it is absolutely critical that every employee be able to access that data as necessary. This openness makes it easier for employees to check the data, relate it back to the company's goals, and improve their understanding of the entire process.
Sure, there are pieces of your data that should be reserved for c-level or higher level employees, but data that is necessary to make decisions for your team must be available to them. If you aren’t giving them that access, they cannot effectively do their job.
Step Five: Give the Team PowerWhen you create a data driven culture, everyone in the team becomes a data analyst. Sometimes, upper-level management may tire of hearing references back to the data, especially the ones that aren't actually supported by the information that has been gathered! In today's information driven society, however, it is possible for any member of the team to happen upon a correlation or insight that someone else might have missed, especially if you are collecting and analyzing large quantities of data on a regular basis. It is also important that each member of the team feel equally valued in order to create a company culture of innovation and progress shaped by the power of data. If you want buy in from every member of the team, they need to feel as though their contributions are valued and their efforts are appreciated.
Step Six: Act on the DataThis seems obvious, but for many companies, it is not. Far too many companies are collecting and even analyzing data, but when it comes time to make decisions that will shape the future of the company, they are not acting on it! If you want a data driven team, you must create a culture that acts on the data that has been collected. If it's obvious that a particular content strategy is not working, it should be discontinued so that effort can instead be spent on something with better results. If your customers are routinely asking for a specific feature, product, or service, your company should take the steps to give it to them. When you act on the data that you have collected, you naturally fuel a culture that is shaped by data.
Overcoming ObstaclesAs you take the steps to become a data driven team, there are several obstacles that may stand in your way. Preparing for them ahead of time will help you avoid those obstacles and create a more successful system for your company. These obstacles may include:
- Paying too much attention to past data. Customer needs and preferences change every single day. You want to be sure that your company is reacting to current data and new metrics, not outdated data.
- Collecting too much data. If the metrics you are reading don't help reach your goals, they are useless background noise at best and a distraction at worst.
- Twisting data. It is very easy to try to use data to support your existing insights and plans, especially if you know how to manipulate observations and results. Instead, make sure that your team studies the data as it is and responds accordingly. Biases need to be completely removed (or as much as possible) in order to actually get accurate insights. If you are using your data to try to prove your point, you’re likely misinterpreting or manipulating the data’s true meaning.
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