How do you clear the path for Data Enablement?
Data Enablement - It is something that is on the minds of many leaders and CEO's as they start to understand the power of data and analytics and more importantly what would happen to their business if they do not get it right - stagnation and failure are not an option.
This article will be one of the most important piece of information you will come across, if you are onboarding a new leader to own and enable Data for your company.
I do not know where we are in comparing data with many things around us - air, water, oil... the list goes on, but the fundamental idea is to use data more - creatively, across all areas of the company. For that to happen, you need to clear the clogs, blockages and set-up a system for promoting widespread use.
You may build analytics, applications, API's, automation, AI or ML - those are all variants but the problem you are trying to solve is "How do I make my business or company become more efficient, faster, leaner, and stronger by enabling (using, leveraging) data across all that we do.
When anyone speaks of Data Enablement it is about using Data across all the business areas, to do the following.
I can hear you asking, "All this is good, but what MUST I do, to drive an efficient Data Enablement program at my company?"
The Short Answer: Displace your Data/Analytics/MIS managers and leads who have been in a role for over four years.
The Long Answer: Read on for more on the "Why this is important for you?"
The four types of people in the data value chain
So how do you get the most of your investments in Data?
By focusing on the four people segments above.
Producers: You do not have much control over your external producers, but you can make your web applications and mobile apps to be efficient by enforcing data validation, managed picklists, and autocorrect options that takes care of the quality of data coming into your systems.
Planners: You can drive focused data literacy and training programs to educate and help with better data utilization.
Processors and Preparers: The focus of this article, the one thing you must do to drive data enablement is in the context of this group. Success or failure with data is attributed to several aspects including support, commitment, budget, culture, technology, legacy platforms, complexity, talent and the list goes on.
When the topic of culture comes up, usually most teams and leaders gravitate to data literacy. Changing the culture takes a long time but there is something all leaders must do that helps with changing the culture.
That brings us to displacing people in the processor and preparer groups.
Failure rate of data leaders is very high, but do you know that most of the time spent by the leaders charged with driving change within the company goes in fighting internal resistance? Healthy resistance is good for the company, we need those checks and balances to validate if an idea, solution, or approach will stand the test of practical use over a period of time. The resistance I am talking about is the unhealthy one. And besides slowing down and causing wastage, it erodes confidence and drains the positive energy within your teams working to move you to the next level with data and analytics.
Forget pareto principle here, because its not the 20% but the 2% of the people who resist change, is what causes slowness, difficulties, setbacks and failures in data programs.
Here is the process to take the "first-step" towards Data Enablement:
Why the four year cut-off?
From my experience in leading data and analytics programs across several global firms, the most resistance came from nay-sayers who have been in the same role for over 5, 10, and even 15 years in some case. They have gotten into the early stages of the company, or programs, or supported the same leader for a long time, that a level of complacency has set in. Such people are reluctant to learn new things, fear the unknown, and desperate to avoid losing the "expert" status.
They are able to misuse the closeness they have with their teams and their managers and propagate resistive tactics. I have to admit some of the best champions I have had during my tenure also have been in their roles for a long time. But such intrapreneurs will support change and help with it, no matter where they are in their organizations.
Test it out
Now that I have given you the recipe for the first-step to succeed and progress with Data Enablement, will you do it? Do you have the courage to lose and displace the people you have depended on for a long time? Don't take my word for it, try it within your company and function. The biggest hurdle to enabling Data is to clear the clog and without doing this hard work, no amount of budget, technology, talent, or infrastructure thrown at the program will help.
Before you intend on making widespread use of data across the company and business functions, the first step is to remove the unhealthy resistance. It can only happen if you step in and do what needs to be done. Sponsorship is more than providing the budget. It is about owning up to step up the efforts and fix what needs to be fixed, even if it is within your own function and that means moving your own people.
Do you want help with your Data Enablement Initiative?
If you liked this article and want me to work with your teams and company leaders in helping drive Data Enablement at your company, let's get started.