Lately I have been thinking a lot about “data ubiquity.”  At risk of stating the obvious, it’s everywhere! Collected from mobile phones, online shopping activities, web searches, social media content, environmental sensors, billing information and more, data can change how businesses engage customers, respond to market opportunities, design products, and sell services. So why are we drowning in data and starved for knowledge?

Collecting data isn’t the hard part, integrating that insight into our business processes and operational models is incredibly difficult. And often the biggest driver of that change, isn’t the data but the champion or change agent that is willing to start the hard conversations about what action needs to be taken.

How do we translate the collected big data into actionable insights? How do we move to the next level of applied data analytics?

Having worked with many large organizations – from police services to pension plans – as they began transformational analytics work, translating data into insights takes focus, planning, and sustained commitment to truly integrate data analytics into your business processes.

Here are 3 key principles that increase the chance of making a lasting impact on the business:

  • Empower an agent of change. – the role of the “change agent” is to turn data into insight, see trends, predict future, and then prepare for the future. Most importantly, they must be empowered to “be courageous” – to question “why things are the way they are” and “whether they have to be that way”, to challenge organizational beliefs, to start hard conversations, take risks and have both the empowerment and responsibility to drive action in the organization.
  • Tell stories with visualization – present unexpected findings in a refreshing approach. Gather complex data and present it in an accessible manner. Consider all the times you may have receive reports that are swamped with numbers and charts but no true recommended solution is offered. Avoid this. Allow people to easily focus on the overall vision. Such a vision should be firmly grounded in data-driven research.
  • Amplify insights – Leverage talent and resources that are available to you in your network and organization as focused efforts can lead to a greater multiplier effect. Large organizational changes, as many of you can relate to, take time to evolve. That is why you must capture opportunities for small wins and persist so that collective efforts blossom into higher level decision making initiatives.

These three guiding principles will help you transform data to insights to action. Express the leadership that is needed to drive an initiative. See a problem, fix it. Help others fix it. Was there a recent data analysis report that didn’t develop into a wider organizational discussion? Be the change and offer a solve. Identify an opportunity you see, loop in with your data experts, and bring forward a recommendation for change. This is how organizations grow. Operate outside of your role with a mindset that encourages collaboration. It could be a risk, but it could also reap great rewards. No change agent ever sits by as opportunities are lost. Learn from the data and help others lead a data-driven change.

To learn more, please reach out on LinkedIn @ Alec Taylor