"Data Driven Decisions" Require Something: THE RIGHT DATA
Updated: Jul 9
TL;DR: Enter the new Corporate Catch Phrase - "Data Driven Decisions". How profound (read with dripping sarcasm). All organizations make 'data driven decisions' every single day, all day, everyday. Why make a decision that could cost millions of dollars without consulting the data first? Of course, what they don't tell you about: are they collecting the correct, most pertinent data with which to make those decisions. If your organization is planning on leveraging this new Corporate Slogan, make sure you've actually captured the right data points at the right time.
Yet Another Corporate Catchphrase
Recently, medium and large organizations have been captivated by this amazing idea of "Data Driven Decisions". How many of us have heard the terms 'Big Data', 'AI', 'Machine Learning', 'Data Lakes', and the always delightful 'Data Mining'. Granted, these terms are just the tip of a very large 'iceberg of words' which have recently become corporate-speak because some executive somewhere thought this concept was brilliant.
The corporate-speak has now become fodder for Sales & Marketing Teams around the world. Turn on the television and pay close attention to the commercials for any large company - guaranteed you'll see or hear one of these terms. Apparently, for years, somehow or another, Corporate America has been making decisions about how to operate by the proverbial seat of their pants - casting aside spreadsheets, charts, graphs, and highly detailed analysis only to rely on insights of members of the C-Suite! ONLY THEY KNOW!
Dose of Reality
As with most of the blog posts I make, don't be fooled by the marketing which takes old processes out of the trash, cleans them off, slaps a new coat of paint on them, and provides a rebranding to sell an old, existing concept.
WE HAVE BEEN DOING DATA DRIVEN DECISIONS FOR DECADES, EVEN CENTURIES.
I doubt there isn't one of us reading this post who hasn't used a spreadsheet to keep track of some kind of data. From family address and phone information, all the way to corporate financials and/or general ledgers, we have been assembling data for a long, long time. Analysts with their charts and graphs - all derived from data. Projections are derived from - you guessed it - data.
So, let's not act like this is some new fangled concept. This is old hat. Period. End of conversation. Or is it...?
Data Does Make the World Go 'Round
I grant you, we do live in the 'Data Age' where we are trapping more information per transaction / contact / communication than ever before. Why? Because we leverage technology for EVERYTHING. Computers, Smart Phones, Search Engines - the list goes on. And what do all of these things need to work? DATA. Massive amounts of it. Therefore, extremely easy to collect when there is a plethora of it to choose from.
Therefore, why wouldn't organizations want to use the data which is now available to them to help make better decisions? Duh. Of course they would.
However, the question no one ever asks: how do you know your organization is captu
ring the right data at the right time so when the analysis is done, the results give you the appropriate results you need to make the best 'data driven decision'?
The answer: No one knows - you just have to assume it's being done.
The Nine-Hundred Pound Gorilla In The Room
By no means do I or would I expect an organization to pull their own curtain back and show the world their data sources - including the level of reliability those sources have. However, it SHOULD make you think twice about the data you're collecting for your business.
Where are you pulling your data from?
What specific data points make the most difference in driving your decisions?
Does your data represent an adequate cross-section of your customers to ensure reasonable result sets?
Is a member or members of your organization evaluating your data for reliability?
How often are you refreshing your data sets?
Is your collected data secure?
Make Sure You're Doing It Right
"Data Driven Decisions" aren't bad per se. However, don't fall victim to the idea this is a new concept and you need to pay hundreds of thousands - even millions - of dollars to reap the benefits. And, frankly, start at the very beginning. Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you must start at the beginning of the Yellow Brick Road.
Make sure you're collecting the RIGHT data points at the RIGHT time. The analysis which comes after will be easy if you've started out on the right foot - with or without the ruby slippers...