Getting Employees Onboard with Data: It Doesn’t Have to Be Scary

Let’s face it. Your employees might not be on board with big data just yet. Data can be intimidating to those who don’t consider themselves math people. It can also frustrate those who don’t yet believe in data-backed decision-making. So how do you go about getting employees onboard with data? It may not be as difficult as it seems.

Selling the Big Data Success Story

There are tons of examples today of ways in which companies and organizations have used data for great success. Share the stories that everyone can understand—be it Target using past purchase information to determine if someone is pregnant or police departments using crime pattern data to prevent crimes from happening. At the end of the data, data helps both the company and the customer provide better service and improve efficiency. In the case of Target, they are better able to anticipate customer needs; in the case of police, they’re better able to divert their human resources to the places they are most likely needed. In getting employees onboard with data, you need to tell these stories of success.

Go Back to the Basics

At the end of the day, big data is just about looking for patterns and following the crumbs. It’s about finding which customers are most likely to buy what based on what they’ve purchased in the past. For instance, we all know on Amazon, they’ll suggestion companion purchases based on things other customers have purchased together. And if I purchase both of those items, they’ll have another suggested purchase based on that shopping decision. This isn’t rocket science! It simply requires a commitment to asking the right questions and finding the data that will support it.

Create a Standard Language

To get employees onboard with data, you need to create a standard taxonomy that makes searching, chunking, and churning data as easy as possible. If marketing uses different labels and subsets than sales, it doesn’t just create a data nightmare. It makes data so difficult to use that most won’t bother to use or share it at all. Be strategic in your data language creation. And communicate it often to make sure everyone is on the right page.

Develop a Clear Data Strategy

Most people aren’t willing to do what they perceive to be difficult things if they don’t understand the reasoning behind it. The same is true for data. To help, develop a clear mantra or mission surrounding your data adoption. Make it part of your culture! Is it to improve customer satisfaction? Develop more efficient ways to serve customers? Develop the next big disruption? When employees understand the purpose, they’ll likely rally behind it.

Be Transparent

If your team had a great win thanks to data, share it! Data allows you to add transparency and trust to every decision-making process. No longer are decisions made in the back room based on manager whim or preference. Employees can trust leaders to communicate why they went a certain way, and what happened when they did so. This is a hugely important part of getting employees onboard with data!

Tell Employees How It Will Help Them

In today’s marketplace, we’re all trying to work more efficiently and effectively. In getting employees onboard with data, help them understand how data will save them time and money, or help them go home earlier on Friday afternoons! Everyone on earth wants to know “what’s in it for me,” and with data, there are always plenty of answers.

While many data initiatives fail today, there are very few reasons they should. We know far too much about using data to our benefit. We have the technology to churn it effectively. And we connected enough to gain insights in real-time. Your job as a leader in your company is simply getting employees onboard with data by communicating data doesn’t have to be scary. Indeed, in many cases, it can be a lifeline to the next right decision.

Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.