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4 Ways to Unleash the Power of Data to Transform Your Organization

Many companies get caught in data traps. They focus so heavily on cost and survival that they end up using data as merely a marketing and sales tool. In doing so, they fail to realize the true power of data: It can transform every aspect of a business.

Expanding beyond the common uses of data can open up your company to reinvention, innovation and a more agile working style. When you apply metrics and dashboards to the brainstorming process, you use data to help innovate. When you utilize consumer behavior data in your accounting efforts, you turn lead conversion stats into profit forecasts. And when you use data to analyze where you’re losing profit and productivity, you improve your operational efficiency.

These are just a few of the seemingly endless ways you can extend your use of data to grow every aspect of your business. To help narrow your options and get the most out of your expansion, here are four crucial things to keep in mind:

1. Bring back the big picture.

Always keep your company’s big picture in mind when expanding your use of data. Maintaining perspective will help you make informed, holistic decisions. You’ll also see potential obstacles more clearly and negotiate issues with increased agility.

Every month, ask one of your teammates to sit down with you and look at the numbers. Mak sure to switch teammates every month. This give you a different perspective on the company’s performance while educating a team member on the goals and ideas encompassing the big picture.

2. Follow more than your customers.

Companies often become obsessed with understanding consumer behavior and forget that they really need to analyze their business from a 360-degree perspective. Data can be used to connect employee performance to metrics and develop a more informed and motivated workplace. When employees can see the data behind their performance, they’ll have clearer benchmarks of success to strive toward.

You can also use data to improve your hiring process. As your startup grows, you’ll need to hire quickly and interview scores of people. Establishing a data-backed scoring system will help you identify quality hires and avoid making the same hiring mistakes twice.

3. Don’t keep your data under wraps.

In a recent Tata Consulting Services survey, respondents cited sharing information across company silos as the No. 1 challenge facing big data. It’s easy to fall into the habit of viewing data gathering and analysis as a secretive process, but it shouldn’t be like espionage. You’re using it to improve your services and operations, so why not involve your customers and shareholders? Make innovation and growth visible parts of your company’s identity.

4. Use data to develop.

One of the biggest data success stories of recent years has been Netflix’s move from video rental services to content creation. The company made this bold decision after gathering large amounts of data and developing unique insight into real-time consumer feelings and reactions.

Netflix even uses data to help dictate the development of its original programming. The hit political drama “House of Cards” was created in direct correlation to consumer habits and tastes, which essentially guaranteed that the show would be successful.

Data should never be pigeonholed. Instead, it should be used to better connect your company. Break down the walls that exist within your organization. This will generate new perspectives, ideas and employee benchmarks. Your new level of connectivity will greatly enhance your company’s camaraderie and potentially create a healthy sense of competition between employees as they measure their performance based on your new metrics.

Did you just realize that your company has fallen into a data trap? Luckily, it’s easy to break free from its chains. Liberating your data will reveal just how efficient and innovative your business can be.

Why the Race for Tech Advancement Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

The path to entrepreneurial success often feels more like a sprint than a steady jog. You race to get your product in front of users and bring on the latest tech options in hopes of leaving your competitors in the dust.

In fact, 78 percent of organizations report that achieving digital transformation is high on their priority list for the next two years. But with so much pressure to stay ahead of the pack and adopt the flashiest new tech, you can lose sight of the reason you use tech: to boost efficiency and reduce costs.

Rolling out new changes before your team has a chance to adapt can actually frustrate employees, hamper productivity and hurt your bottom line. By introducing new tech too often, you also risk confusing customers, and that will prevent users from establishing a stable relationship with your brand.

To reap the rewards of a new tech option, your team has to fully understand it and embrace it. To make each tech investment worthwhile, you need to take a steadier, more sustainable approach to tech advancement in your organization. Here’s how you can get started:

1. Tie every change back to your strategy.

Don’t simply add new tech for the sake of changing. Every new option should be evaluated against your company’s short-term and long-term goals. If your goal is to boost sales, for example, investing money in new HR tech might not be the best move.

2. Make small improvements rather than rapid advancements.

To avoid abrupt changes that throw your entire team into disarray, test each new technology with a small group of users. You can observe how employees handle the new tech and how it fits in with your overall strategy. And, whenever possible, upgrade your existing tech platforms instead of swapping them out entirely.

3. Set up a tech advancement committee.

Establish a standing committee for tech changes so you can monitor how technology is affecting your business and your team. An evaluative committee can research new options, predict how they could improve the company and make suggestions for which new systems to adopt.

4. Focus on adoption.

Your team members are the driving force behind your company. If they aren’t on board with new tech, you won’t see the intended benefits of the change. But adopting new tech is often hard, especially when employees get stuck in their habits. To ease the process, don’t make big changes more often than every six months. That gives employees ample time to adapt. Working closely with your staff is the only way to guarantee they’re on board.

5. Communicate each new option clearly.

Beyond showing how the tech operates, you also need to explain its potential benefits and risks. Every employee should be able to answer questions such as, “How will this make me better at my job?” and “How will this help us achieve our five-year or 10-year goals?” Devote a monthly team meeting to communicating this information so no one gets left behind.

6. Incentivize tech adoption and performance.

By focusing your rewards system on tech advancement, you can incentivize your team to seize opportunities provided by the new tech. Reward employees who adapt quickly, and go the extra mile to find new ways to improve their performance with tech. You should consider creating some training courses for the new tech options, and reward good “grades” with bonuses.

Of course, you shouldn’t discount tech that could vastly improve productivity for fear of overwhelming your employees. But by replacing needless changes with a steadier rhythm of upgrades and rallying your team around new options, you can gain a competitive advantage and enjoy a new level of efficiency. Slowing down might feel strange at first, but conserving your energy will be a smarter strategy in the long run.