When I talk with NAED members, I am often asked advice on best practices for harnessing data.
My answer is always the same – be patient and trust the process. Data is our friend, not the enemy. Invest in people and IT systems specifically for analytics and data science. Make sure you have a plan and clear goals. Involve the appropriate teams. Your CEO may not need to be involved in the actual development of the system but he or she does need to give input on expectations.
Throughout my career I have heard a lot of, “Oh, it will take longer to find another way.” and “I am used to this way.” or “I will worry about cleaning it later because I have to answer this now.” I even hear, “Our top priority is our bottom line.”
So, I often ask these questions in return:
- What happens when there is a problem with your top line or bottom line? You will eventually have to turn to the data to figure out what happened and why.
- If you don’t think you have the time now, do you really think you will have it later?
- If data isn’t your priority now, what is?
With that in mind, I want to add the Market Data Program isn't just about your data, it is about the big picture. In my past experience, I was responsible for analyzing markets for opportunities and identifying shortcomings. One market was down over the prior year. Questions were raised about product, inventory, staff, and self-cannibalization. The decision was made to board a plane with seven other executives and visit that market. We discussed and verified what our data was telling us.
The moral of the story is, our own data could only take us so far. I only had eyes on our data and what we thought or heard was true about the rest of the market and competitors. There were a lot of salaries sitting on a plane and out of the office those days. This program can help you save time and money and you get the whole picture!
Do you need some advice on managing or interpreting your data? Ask Erin.