Struggling with Your Analytics Reputation?

As someone who helps clients with analytical subjects, I see the full spectrum of people’s successes and frustrations. Often, people will confidentially share their struggles with their external consultant when they wish to have a sounding board but they don’t feel comfortable having the discussion with their colleagues or leadership.

It is also not unusual after I give a speech at a conference, to have analytical professionals walk up to me and say, “Thank you, you’ve helped validate what I’ve been trying to accomplish at my own company.” It is comforting to these people to know that they are on the right track, even if they haven’t reached the point where their own colleagues understand the bigger picture and see the value of analytics. At this point, they are feeling alone on an island with no supporters, especially if they are the only analyst within their functional area.

Some people translate their frustrations into a need to organize and define. Over the years, I’ve seen many articles of people attempting to define analytical terms and / or analytical job titles. One author suggested that you can’t be a Data Scientist unless you are versed in applying scientific techniques like hypothesis testing. I guarantee you that the people in HR writing job descriptions and using the title of Data Scientist will never worry about the suggested definitions on the internet. In the real world, HR will do the best it can when writing technical job descriptions and we will always see a variety of titles in analytical roles. It’s far more important for them to capture the needs of the role than to worry about the specific title. But, I digress…

For those who are frustrated, I would like to provide some assistance. I have seen approaches to analytics which begin with floating a business case to the executives in order to get “buy in.” To be honest, anyone can make almost anything look good in a PowerPoint presentation. And if you’re in a large company like I was a few years ago, it would have taken me a full year to cycle through all of those executives. It’s just not a practical approach and those who know me, know that I’m all about aiming for practical and realistic when it comes to analytics.

I’m more of a “prove it” kind of person, so business cases based on general information you obtained from the internet hold no value. Instead, I prefer the bottom-up approach of proving what can be done with analytics to show value. I would always seek out someone who was “feeling major pain” and would be open to accepting my offer of, “Do you mind if we give analytics a try in this application?” Those “feeling major pain” are more apt to try new approaches.

As a second piece of advice, allow me to use HR for this example. You may have noticed that most large companies are structured such that HR Business Partners are aligned to business areas. They represent their business area to the HR team. As such, these are the people that need to be advocates of analytics in HR. However, until you educate them in the capabilities of analytics, they won’t be able to understand the value they can bring by suggesting HR analytics to their business area. By educated HRBPs, I’m not suggesting a mathematical education on analytics, but more of a non-mathematical introduction to show them what is possible. For anyone out there who has heard my talks at HR conferences, it is always non-mathematical. HRBPs don’t need to DO the mathematics. They just need to know WHAT you can DO with analytics. With this approach, HRBPs can become your advocates and you will struggle far less with your analytical reputation.

If you are not in HR, you can still think of your struggle within the same context. Who are the people feeling pain where you think analytics can help provide insight into one of their issues?

I’ll leave it to the reader to contemplate their own situation and approach.

Until next time,

Tracey.

Tracey Smith is an internationally recognized business author, speaker and analytics consultant. She is one of the most highly respected voices when it comes to business analytics and HR analytics. She is the author of multiple business books and hundreds of articles in a variety of publications. Tracey has worked with and advised organizations, both well-known and little-known, on how to use data analytics to impact the bottom line. If you would like to talk to Tracey about consulting work or speaking engagements, please visit www.numericalinsights.com  or contact Tracey Smith through LinkedIn.

Visit Tracey Smith’s Amazon Author Page

 

How to Generate Value… One Data Set at a Time

The world is full of data and massive amounts of new data are being created every day. With so much data, the challenge has become one of discerning which sets of data will provide value. The answer to this question may be unique for every company and organization. Remember, it’s not the data itself that will provide value; it’s what you do with it.

I have been speaking and keynoting at conferences and corporate events for quite a few years and one of my most frequently quoted statements is as follows:

“The key to extracting value from analytics is a combination of focus and prioritization.”

This is a very significant point driven by the fact that so many companies seem lost in a sea of data and don’t know where to start. I, and many of my expert colleagues, all advise that you focus on the business questions that need to be answered. What is the question and what is it worth to your company to actually answer it? With this approach, you obtain both focus and prioritization.

You may also find that putting certain data sets “at the fingertips” of your employees will increase the speed and quality of their decision making. In these cases, the application of data is not for a one-time study but rather for daily use.

For these applications, it is important to determine the data needed to enable better decision making. Is it economic cost indices needed by your Purchasing team? Is it workforce information needed by your Human Resources team? I have no doubt that there are dozens of job roles within each company today that can be improved by providing employees with quick and easy access to information. The initial investigation of this is a project that can be run in any functional area. All you need is someone to lead the project and conduct the investigation into what data will be useful.

The data you need may be something you can use to speed up a process, save money, avoid a cost, improve the quality of your product / service, or improve your customer experience. Regardless of the functional area, there’s bound to be data that, when put in the hands of the employees, allows them to do their jobs better. Why not take advantage of that? It’s time to pause, think, decide, focus and execute on this idea.

Putting the RIGHT data in front of your people to ENABLE better decision making is where you will generate better outcomes.

Ready to put data at the fingertips of your employees?

Until next time,

Tracey.

Tracey Smith is an internationally recognized business author, speaker and analytics consultant. She is one of the most highly respected voices when it comes to business analytics and HR analytics. She is the author of multiple business books and hundreds of articles in a variety of publications. Tracey has worked with and advised organizations, both well-known and little-known, on how to use data analytics to impact the bottom line. If you would like to talk to Tracey about consulting work or speaking engagements, please visit www.numericalinsights.com  or contact Tracey Smith through LinkedIn.

Visit Tracey Smith’s Amazon Author Page