How to Pass from an Intuition-Driven to a Data-Driven Organization

2021-09-27T20:38:26+02:00

Black sports car driving fast seen from above

Digital transformation offers so many new challenges for businesses. Few would disagree that industries must become fully data-centered, but it’s still difficult to let go of traditional ways in the face of such radical changes.

However, digital transformation isn’t just talk; it’s a vital part of ensuring that your business survives. Just like cars have changed for the better by adding safety features to help lessen human error and weaknesses, companies now have data tools that can foster better decision-making and predict more profitable outcomes. Instead of driving data like a traditional car, it’s time to drive your data like a state-of-the-art Tesla.

Business: The traditional way

If your business is still holding on to the traditional way— what we like to call “intuitive driving” — it may feel good enough. Traditional processes work for you, and you pride yourself on having enough business sense to “go with your gut” on certain decisions. Unfortunately, there’s so much your business can miss by driving intuitively.

For example, imagine a business spends months developing a new service and launches a very expensive marketing campaign designed to make the unveiling a success. What happens? The company put the key in the ignition and turned it, expecting the car to start. Instead, it heard only the sound of the engine stalling.

Data may have uncovered insights that could help shape the direction of the new service. It might have offered strategies to target not just all customers but exactly the right customers. It may have revealed serious issues with retaining customers or just how expensive the service is to maintain versus the profits gained from sign-ups. Sometimes, a business thinks it knows where to go, but the data tells a very different story.

Becoming data-driven

Enabling a data-driven business directly increases that company’s bottom line. Businesses that implement big data outperform their peers and increase profits, setting up a long-term potential for success.

A data-driven company uses all the elements of an intuition-driven company: people, process, and technology. But right in the middle? A commitment to data-driven decision-making.

Confident teamwork silhouette

People

The traditional way: Departments operated in silos, and the only people who interacted with data were in IT or the boardroom.

The data-driven way: Hire and train data-literate talent in all departments and invest in data-driven company culture.

Up to 70% of new data-driven initiatives will fail because companies start with the technology and leave out the people. Companies have to support their team members first in the transition to data-driven decision-making. Team members must buy into the new way to drive a business while knowing that their expertise, not their intuition, is what the company still needs.

To create a data-driven company culture, a business must:

  • Train leaders: Companies can identify those most comfortable working with data in each department and use their enthusiasm to help garner support.
  • Communicate well: Identifying the significant benefits data-driven decision-making has for every worker, not just those at the top, helps employees adopt new processes more willingly.
  • Have compassion: Workers will worry about being replaced. Companies have to understand and communicate how important humans are in the data framework.

Intuitive driving into data driving process

Process

The traditional way: Each department had a different set of standards and stored information. Communication stayed within silos.

The data-driven way: Design the system across departments and then automate the process.

People aren’t meant to digest massive amounts of information on their own; it just leads to indigestion! Once employees buy into the benefits of data-driven decision-making, companies need an approach that supports it.

A process that facilitates data culture includes:

  • Automation: Manual processes slow down insights and put departments at higher risk of human error. Automation helps motivate the team to get insights faster.
  • Clear goals: Measurable goals provide feedback for how well the process works and makes it easier to pivot in the face of disruption.
  • Investment: Whether it’s a time investment, monetary investment, or investment in expertise, a well-executed process requires full support, not only pieced together solutions.

Front of a black sports car with the headlights on

Technology

The traditional way Invest in the first shiny solution and then move on to the next, regardless of long-term objectives.

The data-driven way: Use the right technology and data stack according to defined objectives

Companies sometimes invest in technology without clear future goals or toss shiny new products at a problem without addressing the root of the issue. Working through the people and process sections can help uncover technology tools that future-proof operations and that departments will use.

Technology should:

  • Fit the process and not the other way around
  • Offer long-term solutions to the underlying data issues, not simply promise empty solutions.
  • Make life easier, not more challenging.

The last one seems like a no-brainer but remember, having a fancy dashboard that no one uses or understands doesn’t bring insight. Having a tool that doesn’t put data in the hands of people who need it doesn’t bring insight. The tool should make data capture and processing available to every department that requires data.

speedometer car

Data

The traditional way: Capture data and very often lose it in data lakes or silos. Analyze data to confirm gut decisions. Gate-keep data behind IT walls.

The data-driven way: Define what to measure, how to measure it, and how to analyze it.

Then, make it available to the organization.

Data pipelines can drive intelligence decision-making in every department. Organizations move towards digital transformation by training people and putting them in charge of data insights with measurable goals.

Data should be at the center of each portion of doing business. People, processes, and technology all work together to extract accurate, actionable insights to drive the business towards clear goals and set the company apart from its competitors.

Black car the headlights on

Learning to “drive” business with data

Taking steps to move away from intuition-driven processes can be challenging at first.

However, once you make the transition, data insights help steer the entire company’s direction into a surer footing and reduce the complexity of making business decisions even during disruption. With the right technology–and key insights from this blog–you’ll have the key to your brand-new Tesla. It’s now up to you to take the wheel!

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About the Author:

My professional career in the last 10 years has moved into the field of ENTREPRENEURSHIP and INNOVATION. It has given me the opportunity to co-found 3 companies and participate in projects in the areas of gastronomy, real estate, drinks, and innovation consulting.