Think about all the routine things that took place in your company last week. Meetings, reviews, conversations, and regular reports that you read. How many of them had data sprinkled in? How many ideas were backed even by the simplest chart? This is data enablement in practice (not theory). Let’s talk about how to get your people to find more insights within your data.
Getting Your People to Actually Use Data
I love the term data enablement. It sounds fancy and complex. In reality, it merely means that you want people to use data to make decisions. How that happens, isn’t that important. The means don’t justify the end.
I worked with a client that had fantastic data, but no one was using it. I was brought it in to figure out why this was happening. After an audit and a few interviews, I discovered that the client’s company didn’t trust the data. They had seen reports where the numbers looked funky, so they assumed the data was incorrect.
I ensured no technical issues and ran some training to get everyone familiarized with the data and verify the accuracy themselves. They were able to measure their next product launch without any major issues.
Things like this can get in the way of people using data. You may have the highest hopes of building a culture where data is everywhere, but then something gets in the way of that. Data enablement theory (if you can call it that) is about removing those obstacles before they even happen.
I recommend that you use my 3Ps of Data Strategy to enable your people to use data. The 3Ps stand for People, Process, and Providers, and here’s how you can use them.
For People, you want to determine the following things:
- What is the current skill level of your team? Do they know things like SQL?
- What support should you provide in the form of data analysts, data scientists, etc.?
- What’s the most effective training program that you can design?
- What are the appropriate expectations for how people will use data? The secret here is to ask your people to see what they think.
For Process, answer the following questions:
- How will data be converted into insights? The more detail, the better.
- What reports will our team use regularly?
- If we run into issues like data accuracy or trust, how will we solve them?
For Providers, go through these points:
- What technology will make our lives easier? Take into account the technical level and capabilities of your team.
- How can technology help surface insights?
- What’s the most effective way of choosing technologies and implementing them?
Answering all or most of these questions will get you going on data enablement. Like most things, you need to get started and adjust along the way.
Data Enablement & Governance
I want to make a special point about governance. Someone has to take ownership of the data and ensure that it is accurate and usable. The concept of governing over your data then becomes useful. This person’s role can be a data analyst, or you might assign someone else to it.
You can also think about how your company will be affected by the ongoing privacy battle. Facebook and Apple are part of a longer trend that gives consumers more power in handling their data. Your company should also be thinking about protecting data, complying with regulations, and how data will be used.
Building a Data-Supported Culture
If your company is just getting started, all of this might seem like a lot of work. The truth is that you’re right. There’s a lot of work that needs to be at the beginning, making it easier to maintain over the long run.
Think about the Dodgers and when they hire Jackie Robinson as the first black baseball player in 1947. It took a lot of guts, but someone had to go first. In your company, someone has to go first and volunteer to get this project off the ground. Is that going to be you?
Data enablement doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by managing your expectations around what success looks like. Provide the right support and assume that your people will do their best. Be patient and you’ll find that your team is making better and faster decisions.