3 Tips for Ensuring You Have the Right Data Specialist on Your Team

Data specialistIn fact, according to a recent PwC study, 92% of executives describe their organization as at least somewhat data-driven. This growing reliance on analytics puts the chief data owner in a powerful position as someone you rely on heavily. To ensure you get the information you need when you need it, here are 3 characteristics every data champion should have.

1. Ensure they focus on the problem, not the data. As a CEO, you are under pressure to solve complex problems and exploit opportunities before your competitors do. So ensure that your data champion understands your business objective as well as the risks of going down a data rabbit hole. From the outset, data champions should be asking you or their team leader, “What do we want to achieve?” and “What data do we have to help us get there?”

Example: A commercial airline wanted to reduce non-weather-related downtime. To achieve this, they looked at data from sensors embedded into engines to help predict equipment failure. But the data from the sensors didn’t enable the predictive capability they expected. In light of their business objective, the airline augmented the sensor data with data from manual logs maintained by mechanics and pilots. The combination of structured data from the aircraft combined with the unstructured data from the logs enabled the airline to gain a better view into performance and reduce down-time.

“Digital innovation emerges frequently from unconventional places like incubators, university labs, and open source projects. So don’t be afraid to forge new relationships with non-traditional players..”

2. Encourage an outside-in view. Gone are the days when you can rely solely on information within the walls of your enterprise. Data owners must also be directed to look outside your business, and even your sector, for new data sources and insights. Digital innovation emerges frequently from unconventional places like incubators, university labs, and open source projects. So don’t be afraid to forge new relationships with non-traditional players. This combination will give you the bigger picture, as well as a steady stream of innovative insights.

3. Tell them to ditch the spreadsheet. You don’t have the time for data owners who walk into your office with a 40-page spreadsheet. You need the highlights. New visualization tools, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence can do more to bring data to life quickly and allow you to make fast, prioritized decisions. Fifty-two percent of CEOs surveyed by PwC say they have discounted data that they didn’t understand. Even when data is delivered effectively, you may still fall back on your gut, but you would be doing it from an informed position.

As data is now at the center of everything companies do today, you and your executive team must continue to place greater emphasis on analytics. To take full advantage of all that data and analytics can offer requires a mindset shift and a new breed of data champion. Take these important steps now to ensure your data champions are prepared for the journey ahead.

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