Multiple authors and speakers discussed how the need for big data was coming in many industries so that owners could manage their businesses more effectively. The comments ranged from utilizing this data in terms their website analytics to provide a better experience for their visitors.
We saw data for social engagement, customer behavior, website lead forms, and even for a customer’s total online experience.
We also heard the argument that data for data’s sake was just adding more information on an already overloaded business owner.
What to do? Who to believe?
My feeling is that data is important. But inherently there are challenges that businesses face. For instance, many industries do not have common standards as to what each metric means for their business.
In terms of a website, words like conversion, impression, click, visitor etc. can mean different things to different people. Companies can make data sound great because they are funneling it through what they want those numbers to say so they can showcase their efforts.
Big Data should take away the emotional aspect of running a business. I recently saw Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland Athletics, speak about how he would not watch the games because he did not want how he felt about a player influence decisions he may have to make based on the metrics he was using.
I agree. I have been guilty of this myself. I have heard myself make allowances for an employee’s performance because I know about their personal issues. One of the best lessons I learned was to cover up the person’s name, look at the results, and then make my decision. Then uncover their name and see if my decision would change. Try it next time. It is enlightening.
But more importantly for me is that “Big Data” or ANY data without a process for action is a waste of time and energy.
What are you going to do with the data? How is it impacting what you are currently doing and how will this new information change your process of doing business.
If we see that more people are going to the website, do we adjust spending on some other part of your marketing? Would an increase in one department mean more staffing, training, etc.? If you see efficiencies in your distribution or delivery mechanism, are you changing the process to reflect this?
Too many companies go with the “hope” factor when change comes.
Here is a list of items you should look to address when looking at Big Data:
- What does the data tell us?
- What does it mean in terms of what we are currently doing?
- Does it have any impact on process?
- If so, what does it mean?
- How will this be rolled out?
- How will this be implemented?
- What training needs to happen?
- What accountability measures need to be put in place?
- How will we monitor this in the future?
All of this has to happen or big data becomes a big pile of nothing on the desk of leadership.
Let me know your thoughts.