“Religion”, “fun”, “social”. They’re not words you’d expect to be associated with a discussion on the importance of data to a business, and advice on how to manage, manipulate and extract maximum value from data. Nevertheless, those are the exact words the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is using in its report The Virtuous Circle Of Data — Engaging employees in data and transforming your business.
In the report, the EIU argues that many companies have invested significantly in gathering vast amounts of data, yet still struggle to extract insights, put them to work for the business and create truly data-driven organisations. The report “explores how organisations can spark a chain of events through top-down leadership and bottom-up employee engagement that creates a culture with data at the centre of decision-making.” This, the EIU says, requires both top-down leadership and bottom up engagement.
The religion aspect comes in a quote from LinkedIn’s head of business-to-business products, Russell Glass, who says — in the context of achieving top down leadership: “There is no substitute for a corporate leader who has found religion in data and analytics.”
The fun and social aspects come from the EIU’s suggestions on how to motivate the rank and file employees of an organisation to recognise the importance of data.
Bottom-up engagement — motivating and engaging employees across all levels of the organisation to use data — the EIU suggests, can be achieved by “putting in place training and advancement programmes focused on data analytics, creating compensation incentives and competitive motivators, and even making data analytics fun and social.”
Making data analytics fun, it suggests can be achieved by “linking data with the basic instincts and needs all employees share: to compete, to shine and to feel happy and fulfilled at work.” In one example sales teams compete with each other on their metrics, and the winners receive a trophy and an extra day of vacation.
The EIU says that “There is no replacement for a CEO with a vision and a personal mission to inspire and instil a culture that looks for data-driven insights and works on facts-based decision-making. … It is an absolutely necessary condition for building a data-driven business.
Lanrex managing director, Jodie Korber noted that, “In our experience we have found that many companies have a great ability to collect data, but often this data is not transformed (through analytics) into meaningful information, which can be used to align business employees and the business strategy. It is vital that the data being collected is being used to make changes and used as reference points to ensure the business stays on track to accomplishing its goals and fulfil its overall strategy.“
The report from EIU offers little in the way of suggestion as to how a non-believer can be made to ‘get’ the religion of data, but says the trickier and perhaps more critical element is “engaging and motivating employees across the organisation to embrace the spirit, thinking and practices of a truly data-driven business—and to do so in a consistent, unwavering manner day in and day out.”
That will be no small feat, but even companies that feel they have made the transition to being truly data-driven won’t be able to rest on their laurels. The EIU suggests that many companies are well on their way to transforming themselves into data-driven businesses, but will need to gear up for the next stage in their evolution: “learning to be creative and innovative with data — to not only consistently use the tools that they have built and apply methods that they have learned, but to invent and create new ones all the time and to drive change without the need for top-down initiatives.”
Lanrex concur that ‘ creating a culture of change does not happen overnight, but by using meaningful information through data gathered by your business can really put the wheels in motion to see where changes need to be made and can have a pivotal impact on business success.’
It’s a great time to be in business.
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