If you have ever struggled to turn your data into actionable insights, you’re in good company. Almost every business grapples immensely with their data at some point, and that’s often because the task of transforming it into usable information can be overwhelming to the point that it gets ignored. Challenging as it may be, data is the foundation of successful digital transformation (DX), and taking it to the next level can fuel better decision making. Data helps executives understand who they are building for and what their customers actually want. Furthermore, actionable data creates better accountability internally, because things that can be measured can also be managed.
Of course, not everything measurable is worth managing, making the need for data-savvy team members a high priority for organizations that want to provide better digital services/solutions. As a recent CIO article on DX disruption points out, “Data scientists and data architects are also in high demand, as companies seek to glean insights out of vast troves of data, and transformations lean increasingly on machine learning and artificial intelligence.”
With this in mind, it’s crucial for executives to prioritize which data will be useful and how to best cut through the noise (aka, data overload).
Leave your conclusions (and your buzzwords) at the door
Many business owners and operators want to demonstrate how knowledgeable they are about data and how often they’re leveraging it by throwing around buzzwords like AI, Machine Learning (ML), and Deep Learning, to name a few. While AI and ML can provide many benefits, such as 24/7 customer service, most businesses will not be ready to implement these tools until they take the time to understand where they can provide the most value. In other words, buying the latest technologies without knowing how they fit into the DX strategy should be avoided. Impulse DX decisions like these align with recent research, which shows that many executives are still making business decisions based on gut instinct. A recent survey from Talend found that, despite working with data daily, 36% of executives, “still go with their gut.”
Quality over quantity
Just like making business decisions based on feelings, there’s another factor hurting the bottom line: bad data. In 2018, Gartner reported that poor data quality cost organizations an average of $15 million annually. Thankfully, many executives recognize this and are working toward improving data quality. According to a 2021 report from Gartner, by 2022, 30% of Chief Data Officers will partner directly with their CFO to “formally value the organization’s information assets for improved information management and benefits.” These cross-functional partnerships will help drive business value by creating repeatable, sustainable data programs that help fuel successful digital initiatives and evolving customer experiences (CX). They can also target fundamental challenges associated with information architecture and how to capture the most useful data.
Connecting the dots
So, how do organizations drill down to the most useful data? In addition to hiring and/or training data specialists, executives should aim to have a deeper understanding of the data that impacts the business. As HBR frames it, “For numbers to inspire action, they have to do more than make sense — they have to make meaning.” It’s not uncommon for teams to get together, bring a bunch of data to the table, and then spend the entire meeting talking about where the numbers came from, only to realize that each person in the room has a different interpretation of what any of it means. This piecing-the-puzzle-together mentality is no longer an option for executives who wish to implement successful digital initiatives. Gartner predicts, “By 2023, data literacy will become an explicit and necessary driver of business value, demonstrated by its formal inclusion in over 80% of data and analytics strategies and change management programs.”
Leveraging your data into a better customer experience
As a recent HBR report points out, collecting and understanding different data points has a major impact on CX. This is a challenge across all industries, but is especially prevalent in sectors such as manufacturing, which faced several user demand issues during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report notes that, “Manufacturers that leverage technology to delight their customers and differentiate the experience will reap the benefits of their digital transformation investment.”
Creating value from your data involves several factors, including gaining a better understanding of the information, knowing where it’s coming from, and working with cross-functional teams to ensure that all areas of the business are aligned on what it means and how it will be leveraged.