The Human Component of Our Data-Driven Future
What does it mean to be data-driven?
For a term that has become somewhat ubiquitous over the past few years, the concept often makes for a better aspiration than any kind of operational reality. Adding data to a conversation rarely makes a task simpler and it certainly almost never has provided “The Answer” on its own. If you find yourself asking “What does the data tells us?”, odds are that your process is not data-driven.
Seeking out truths blindly is inefficient and, at worst, risks diluting your value proposition. Any company can onboard data and/or software. Fewer have the people who can extract value from those investments.
While it is understandable to want to “let data decide” given the costs involved, automation is not an alternative for analysis. Context can be wielded to elevate or decimate any data-driven insight. Rather than informing actions, data absent context can paralyze with indecision.
Intuition is a required component in becoming data driven. While data alone can make a process repeatable all else being equal, imagination is required to recreate success when the situation inevitably is not. Too much data and results suffer. Why? Because the data manager fails to anticipate change, or the staff becomes alienated by their lack of participation.
So, what does it mean to be data-driven?
Start by putting people ahead of data. Elevate your organization’s accrued experience as the foundation of your strategy but require data rigor as the means for anyone to expand on it. Be bold in assuming you intuitively know what is best, but humble enough to reconsider and repackage your experience as new data becomes available. Commit to a perpetual cycle of testing, learning and resetting rather than a finite quest for definitive answers. Anchor the value data can provide in the insights that your experts can glean from the data, instead of relying solely on the tech stack.