How to make 2018 your year of data and insights

How to make 2018 your year of data and insights

How to make 2018 your year of data and insights

This past year has been an illuminating year for me.  I’ve been able to see into the boardrooms and departments of many organisations across the UK and further afield.  I’ll share my learnings and help you make your 2018 insights driven. Here’s how:

Invest in a solid Data Strategy – why?  Simply put – you need to know where you are going, and what value your business will get from your data.  A data strategy if done well will create the roadmap to take you from the basics of Business Intelligence to dabbling in more advanced analytical techniques…next point.

Invest in a sound Data Governance – why?  The adage of Garbage in / Garbage Out cannot be viewed as business as usual!  For you to be able to get the insights into your data, and to move towards more sophisticated analytical techniques you will need good quality data. Implementing sound data governance to control how data is managed across the business, controlling access and generating good quality data will be key. If you don’t know how you use your data and who has access to it then you could be in for a major fine in 2018 – GDPR arrives! If clean and governed well your data becomes a formidable asset to your organisation.

Invest in integrating your data – why? If clean and governed well your data becomes a formidable asset to your organisation.  Bringing data together from all your different systems will provide you with different insights into your business.  Typical areas marketers struggle with is still tying together channel impact and ROI for marketing campaigns!  Why would that the case?  Too many tools invested in, too much massaging of numbers (yes, I’m afraid this still happens), and not enough understanding of what the data is telling them.  Okay, I’m having a poke at marketers, most boardrooms are still embedded in “data starvation” – can’t see across their organisation clearly enough to know if they are making the right and sound investments.  Not integrating data will hold you back and your internal supply chain.  Think about how you might want to mash all that data together and start providing data products to your suppliers or partners, so that you could monetise data and start to see your business model be disrupted.  You can’t afford not to have a data integration strategy as part of your overall Data Strategy.  Now that brings me onto my next point…

Invest in the right teams – why? Data analysts, data engineers, data scientists, business analysts, etc.  You may have some of these people already moping around your business.  Moping?  Well you have hired too many data scientists as you think they can do the job of everything related to data!  Nope, you need a blended team of business and technically focused people to play off each other and garner the insights you need across your organisation.  Your data strategy will start to inform you of the skills gap in your organisation and what types of models might be better for you i.e. Analytics Centre Of Excellence, outsourcing some of your more technical areas etc.  Getting the right people in place help with the next point…

Invest in a use case driven approach – why?  Data Strategy will give you a prioritised approach about implementing your use cases. It will answer such questions as: what data is available, accessible and clean, what data needs to be integrated, what tools and techniques you need to invest in. It will help you prioritise your efforts, gain clarity, quick wins and provide massive value to the business.

Invest in Storytelling – why? Dashboards are more than just pretty pictures.  Create stories that help your employees make meaning from their data and weave it into the everyday processes of the organisation.  Data visualization expert Stephen Few said, “Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.”  When data is told as a story, you start to connect differently with it and there is an emotional element to it too, which makes yours and others brains more receptive to it.  The difference of shoving numbers in front of someone, or telling them what the numbers mean, and how it will impact their decisions, is far more powerful.

My 2017 observations are that fundamentally, organisations are still struggling with data, to get value from it, to learn from it, to monetise it, to generate new products and services from it. How will you succeed with your data in 2018?