Enough with Your Gut: Time for Data-Driven Leadership
by Daniel Newman | November 16, 2016
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“Go with your gut,” is a cliché piece of advice that needs to disappear with regard to strategic business planning. Data is one of the most valuable commodities in the modern business world. Leaders need to stop relying on gut instinct and learn to leverage data as a valuable decision-making tool. The evidence is clear that companies using data to drive decisions are gaining ground over their competition and have distinct advantages over businesses that aren’t. Changing behaviors typically takes time, but company leaders need to be able to move from gut decisions to data-driven ones. How can they accomplish this?

Prioritize the Use of Analytics

If you don’t already have an in-house or outsourced analytics team, I believe it would be a good idea to invest in one. Data scientists are among the most sought-after professionals in modern business as the volume and significance of data continues to grow. Your data is going to tell you more about the future of your company than you may realize, so you need to allocate resources that will ensure accurate, consistent analysis.

Big data is a pressing concern for many companies, but it doesn’t serve much purpose without the ability to analyze and capitalize on it. The complexities within your company’s data are a goldmine of valuable information, as long as you know how to find them and draw insights to your business’s advantage.

Lead from the Front

Data-driven leadership is quickly becoming the norm. Company leaders who understand the value of data and know how to leverage it are the ones who can successfully manage the C-suite. However, good data-driven leadership doesn’t solely mean appreciating the value of data; it also means encouraging a data-driven company culture from the top down.

While this entails building a strong in-house team, you also may want to consider branching out and exploring external providers that have the expertise to handle more complex projects. Some of the most talented people in the world today are freelance professionals, or those who work at small, tight-knit organizations that have honed their skills in various niches. Use your company data to determine where your internal pain points are, and you’ll be able to grow smarter, not just bigger.

Data strategy needs to start at the top with leaders who empower their organizations with the tools and resources required to be totally data-driven. This not only extends to leveraging data as a decision-making factor for major business maneuvers, but also making data an integral part of daily operations. Your organization should understand the impact data has on the business, as well as how each contribution matters as part of the whole. 

Create a Cohesive Data Strategy

Data analytics definitely needs to be part of the decision-making process, but this does not mean having a sound strategy should be any less of a priority. When owners place more strategic emphasis on data, businesses can compile more accurate and relevant customer profiles. This also makes targeting ads and content much more straightforward. I’m positive that it’s easier to focus on the customer experience when you have a clear vision of their wants, needs, tendencies, and problems.

Invest in Data Collection

If you’re going to be a data-driven leader, you’re obviously going to need relevant data. Data collection is crucial, and if your collection system isn’t robust enough to capture the details you need to make calculated decisions, it’s time to ramp up your organization’s capabilities. This is where a data-driven strategy matters most: You need to invest in the ability to collect data, professionals to analyze it, and active processes that leverage it to build better customer experiences. The more data you can collect, the more you have to work with to make better-informed data-driven business decisions.

There will always be a time and place for gut reactions, but today’s landscape of digital transformation helps take most of the guesswork out of business. Business leaders who want to keep their organizations moving forward need to be proactive and data-driven, not reactive and led by instinct. I think calculated decisions made from carefully and comprehensively analyzed data is what will separate the companies that succeed from the ones that fold.

Photo Credit: Agent Mystery Case Flickr via Compfight cc

About the Author

Daniel Newman is the Chief Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of The Futurum 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. Read Full Bio