10 signs your company is “data-driven”


3 April 2015
Benoit Arson

Be “guided by data”  It’s the latest mantra across the digital ecosphere. Access to massive data has opened the floodgates to measuring in ways that have never been possible before.

According to Cisco, in Asia Pacific, excluding regional giants China and India, mobile data traffic alone will account for 3.1 exabytes per month in 2019. This is 731 times more traffic than seen in 2009. Singapore in particular will contribute a hefty portion of this data, with its mobile penetration rates rising to 156 per cent by 2019. With such heavy traffic in the region, more companies have started investing in gathering and analysing data.

But simply having access to data is not enough for a company to become “data-driven”. Relying on data must become second nature – a habit that needs to be integrated into the company’s way of thinking, making decisions, discussing, and carrying out everyday activities.

However, we must be careful about the meaning we pull from “driven”, as it’s the source of some misunderstanding within the expression “data-driven”. If by “driven” we mean “directed”, “led” or “guided”, this does indeed mean that data points us in the right direction and leads us. On the other hand, if we interpret “driven” as “propelled” or “motivated”, this can create confusion, as companies are often more motivated by the vision surrounding the data than by the raw numbers themselves.  Companies should be motivated by a vision with goals, and data should help guide them toward those goals. It’s therefore preferable that a company aim to be both “vision-driven” and “data-informed”.

Here are ten tell-tale signs that prove your company is data-driven:

1) Someone is responsible for the quality of your data

There’s someone at your company whose responsibility is to ensure that the data collected and communicated are of sufficient quality. As such, each employee knows that he or she can confidently trust the data being examined.

2) With any new online project, the question of obtaining audience data is asked from square one

Before the first line of code is even written, the question of tagging and collecting data is asked. As such, once the project is pushed live, visit data is collected immediately and performance analysis can take place.

3) Whenever someone offers an opinion, it’s accompanied by numbers and data

Each time someone puts forth an opinion, you’ve gotten accustomed to asking what data the opinion is based on. As such, decisions are not made with biases, preconceived notions or beliefs, but with real facts – allowing for surgical precision in execution.

4) Numbers are communicated, even if they illustrate poor performance

When your company experiences below-average performance, nobody tries to hide it. As such, everyone knows in which areas performance must be improved.

5) Everyone can access the data that relates to them

All employees have access to the figures representing their team’s activities. As such, all team members have a precise understanding of both the strengths and weaknesses of the team.

6) Each objective has an associated indicator and target to be reached

As soon as an objective is assigned to a team, they know the indicator allowing them to judge whether the objective has been reached. As such, employees know if goals are achieved – and have a better view of their contribution to these achievements.

7) Teams receive data analysis training

Each employee has been trained on data analysis and interpretation. As such, employees are more at ease with data interpretation, and know which methods to employ to analyse and act accordingly.

8) Data collection projects have no trouble getting financed

Whenever it’s possible to get new data, the necessary budget is easily found. Stakeholders can easily obtain new data for decision-making and they know their management fully values data and attributes high importance to it.

9) Data is not used to point fingers in case of failure

When something fails, data is shared – not to create blame toward the ones responsible, but to set the conditions for improved performance. As such, employees are less afraid to take risks, and less hesitant to use data that might potentially reveal less-than-stellar performance.

10) Relying on tests has become second nature

Before any corrective actions are taken for an entire audience, a test is carried out on a portion of the population to check if this correction does indeed improve performance. As such, data justifies and validates projects for improvements and allows you to acquire a better understanding of user behaviour and motivation.

Being a “data-driven” company creates many promising opportunities – but also brings new challenges. But with some adjustments, companies that employ data to guide their business processes will find a clear advantage against their competitors who do not.

So … does your company display any of these ten signs of being “data-driven”?

Benoit Arson blogs on digital analytics for AT Internet. Fai-Keung Ng, group country manager, Southeast Asia, AT Internet, also contributed to this article.