In 2018, I shifted the focus of my consulting agency from general business consulting to exclusively understanding and addressing women. A number of my peers have since questioned my decision—asking why I picked such a narrow niche. My answer to them is always the same: It was a data-driven decision.
After evaluating the data, it quickly became apparent that there was a gap in the market that my team could fill.
Now we're helping organizations of all sizes win more customers, create deeper connections and see substantial growth by doing the same.
Making data-driven decisions isn't just good for business. For some companies, like ours, it can be a key differentiator in a crowded market and can pay in dividends when you take the right approach.
1. Make data a priority.
If you want your business to implement a more effective approach, prioritizing data-driven decision making from the top down is a good place to start.
First, your team needs to be able to clearly define what your business is trying to achieve, then find data that supports and aligns with the goals they identify. The company culture should reflect a data-driven strategy through research-based features and services, customer surveys and detailed analysis that produces justifiable insights. These elements ensure that the team is leading from a place of focus and value, which produces constructive results.
When thinking about your organization, ask yourself if you've created a data-driven culture. If you haven't, now's the time to start.
2. Start collecting (the right) data right now.
Before you can make data-driven decisions, you need to have the data. Depending on the size of your organization, data can come from a variety of places such as systems, surveys, reports, research, dashboards, your customers and/or your team. You'll want to turn to these resources to find out more about your market. Having the right information at the right time is important.
Refer back to your strategic objectives. What is your business trying to achieve?
If you're looking for ways to see things differently, hire a consultant who specializes in your field or market to perform a SWOT analysis or a product/brand audit.
It can be tempting to collect all of the data available on relevant topics, but having specific questions in mind increases your effectiveness and saves you time and money on resources in the end.
Focus in on the information that will yield the data most beneficial to your market.
3. Identify and address biases.
Data is only one part of the equation. Your team also needs to understand how to implement it.
In some cases, implicit and explicit biases may prevent members of your team from making the right data-driven decisions, subsequently hindering business growth.
One way to support your team and address biases before they interfere with data-driven decision making is to embed diversity and inclusion initiatives in your organization. If you take measures now to ensure your company values diverse perspectives, including a wide range of demographic personas and team members, you can help limit the chances of biases getting in the way of business.
4. Meet and discuss your findings frequently.
Once you've identified the information you're seeking and allocated resources, it is helpful to have a system or process in place to collect and manage data.
While individuals will be assigned to certain tasks, it is important to set aside time to review new opportunities and insights together as a team. In these meetings, get their take on the data and talk through how the insights, if applied, can move the business forward.
5. Hire a consultant.
Bring in an expert who can facilitate a meeting and train your staff. If you know what is holding your team back from being more data-driven (addressing biases, for example), seek out a consultant who can help you fill in the gaps.
If you're looking for ways to see things differently, hire a consultant who specializes in your field or market to perform a SWOT analysis or a product/brand audit. If your organization has a lot of data, bring in someone with big data experience who can help you create dashboards to display actionable data for your team.
Making data-driven decisions means you're taking the steps needed to do more for your business, your customers and your employees by capitalizing on the new and promising opportunities available.
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