With the ‘big data’ buzz flying around, many have tuned out and turned off to the trend. It can be hard to decipher what’s relevant to you and your organization amongst all the hype. The truth is that no matter what your professional discipline, data is your friend. Understanding data and having access to relevant data can enhance your ability to do your job. So whether you are starting out on your data journey or would like to shift your focus to new sets of data, you should make the case for data you need in your department and within your organization.
A Sixth Sense for Data?
Much of management and strategic thinking was and still is ‘gut based.’ In other words, years of experience and familiarity with a certain area of expertise would lead one to have the ability to make informed decisions. This has not changed but organizational expectations have. Consider data as ‘back up’ to your gut or intuition. It allows you to put numbers to your hunches.
Don’t Fear the Data
Many people fear data because of the ‘what ifs.’ What if the data makes you or your department look bad? What if it creates more work or opens you up to more questions? The truth is this: you can’t measure growth without a starting point and you can’t measure success without assessing the status quo. You may discover a lot about how your department can improve the way it spends its time and money. So whatever the starting point, you must establish it in order to start down the path towards success.
Making your successes quantifiable makes them easier to communicate to stakeholders and in a sense, makes them more ‘real.’ Metric goals also help unify your department in terms of their mission and objectives. When you are all working towards a recognized metric goal, it’s easier to understand how you can contribute to the success of achieving that goal and that the success can be numerically verified.
My goal? World Peace.
Data enables you to turn nebulous goals like ‘growth’ and ‘improved ROI’ into numerical targets and success metrics. Having real and measurable goals to determine your success allows you to very practically layout a strategy for achieving them. Large goals can be overwhelming. Specific and measurable goals are more approachable and realistic.
Keep up with the Joneses
Other departments within your company and your peers at other companies are already relying on metrics. Start speaking the ‘new lingo’ and introduce your success metrics to the company.