MBA Resource Article

How Managers Can Make Better Use of Their Data

By Ritika Puri

In 2012, Harvard Business Review named data science the “sexiest career of the 21st Century.”1 But three years later, companies are still struggling to transform the volumes of data that they are collecting into actionable next steps. As a recent Accenture survey points out, 78 percent of chief marketing officers believe that analytics, digital media and mobile technologies will drive major changes within the next five years, but only 21 percent believe that their organizations will be well-equipped to keep up.2 The reason? Most organizations lack the systems, training and people power necessary to support a truly data-driven culture.

Managers and emerging leaders can tackle these challenges by taking the following steps:

Establish clear goals for analysis

Many companies are collecting volumes of data without taking a step back to ask why. They fail to set goals for analysis or develop a methodology for answering key business questions. The end result is an information avalanche in which critical business details are buried.

Managers and leaders are in an ideal position to connect an information-technology or data-science team’s information-gathering processes to the rest of the organization. Companies can start by comparing the data that they are collecting to the business questions that they need to answer the most.

One example is Virgin America3. Looking to increase transaction rates among consumers, the airline has launched a series of email marketing campaigns that use demographic and past purchase data to deliver more tailored and targeted offers. The result of this effort has been a personalization strategy with an exponentially higher transaction rate than typical campaigns.

The ability to create clear buyer segments and differentiate shopping patterns between them has been invaluable for Virgin.

Focus on the business’s bottom line

When companies collect volumes of data, focus becomes a challenge. It’s difficult to uncover an “underlying business story” when information is stuck in data warehouses and requires hours of an engineer’s time to retrieve.

It’s up to an organization’s managers to establish clarity and direction. But where should companies be devoting their time and attention, and what numbers should they be tracking? Analytics consultant Alistair Croll recommends the following:4

“Analytics need to be in the entire lifecycle of a product. You have to build data collection into the product roadmap; measure it in real time and in the aggregate; and learn by following up on the data to better understand your market.”

In other words, a company’s key performance indicators need to inform all aspects of product development, sales and marketing — a perspective that is much broader than just tracking bottom-line revenue.

Managers need to be careful in setting the right direction.

Assemble the Puzzle

A comprehensive data-management strategy requires more than a quantitative analyst team. Organizations need information architects, cyber policy specialists, security experts and even sales leaders for a truly comprehensive strategy.

One resource that can help is Utica College’s MBA program, which allows students to specialize in areas such as Cybersecurity, Finance/Accounting, Cyber Policy or a mix of these, targeting expertise to the career field. The core courses in the MBA program are strategically designed to specifically integrate career-relevant subject areas such that students can directly apply classroom material to their day to day job. The knowledge gained in the program will be vital to companies that are trying to make sense and profit from the reams of data they have.

https://hbr.org/2012/10/data-scientist-the-sexiest-job-of-the-21st-century

https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-cmo-digital-transformation-summary.aspx

http://www.gigya.com/blog/from-data-to-dollars-3-ways-to-turn-insight-into-action

http://leanstartup.co/speaker-spotlight-using-data-to-build-a-better-business-faster

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