What core practices can help us use data to better future-proof a business?
A brief exploration on how companies can harness data to come out of the current situation with momentum and strength.
Coming out of the pandemic with strength
Humdex is a little data obsessed, we know this and try hard to reign in our enthusiasm for people analytics when speaking to individuals who may not want to discuss, for example, the fluctuations of productivity, in Germany, over the course of the Corona virus. We do not, however, have to convince businesses that using data is not only valuable but essential to succeeding now, and in the future, this is an accepted fact. What we do need to discuss together is how to handle that data, how to deploy its value for impact and how to understand the motivations for its use. In this short piece I want to highlight the core ways in which companies can use data to improve their outlook for the future.
“One thing we should all be focusing on is how we can use data and analytics to help us come out of the current situation and be in a position of strength for the future.”
Jordan Morrow, Reactive vs Proactive Analytics – Shape the Future, Qlik
Taking the reins with data
4 core practices companies can use data to help future-proofing.
1 - Data governance
Long term investment in data governance is critical for achieving business goals and better market adaptability. Data governance, on the micro level for businesses, is a structured management of data assets within an organization, covering data custody, data quality, tools and processes.
Fig. 1. Data governance diagram by StarCIO
It is the major step in mastering information use in a business. Many initiatives live and die by the quality of their information, data governance ensures a knowledge of key legislation (GDPR, data protection etc…) and installs a series of checks and balances that reduce risk by being able to identify quality and trusted data from your sources. Most importantly this approach gives power to the individuals who's job depends on data quality and aligns their needs with that of the business = being data driven to improve chances of business success in the future.
2 - Being data-driven/based
Ray wright tells us that “Changing the culture and emphasizing the importance of being data-driven takes time and must be directed from the top of the organization.” Being data-driven is a procedural (i.e. data governance) and cultural transformation. Data must be part of every decision process from the start, it should never be shoe-horned in part way through the process to fit an already decided upon aim. It is at its most powerful when it is used as the catalyst for action or as proof of the validity of an action. It is imperative that higher management operates less on gut feeling and require that most operations (i.e. departmental reporting, new initiative plans etc…) make use of appropriate information at its base and show that this data is being used to shape the business.
3 - Knowing why you need data/being outcome orientated
Every company knows that they need data to prosper but gathering as much data on everything is not a good use of anyone’s time. There is an IT term called Garbage In-Garbage Out (GIGO for short), which essentially means in this scenario that if companies are vague with what they want to achieve or need the data for, then the output will be equally as vague and full of holes, which achieves little. Not only do we need to be clear as to why we need information on X or why we are doing initiative Y but it is also hugely important to set goals and KPIs based on data available. We need to know when to celebrate, when to re-calibrate and when to reconsider, bench-marking as well as a good understanding of external and internal environment data can achieve this. An example we have talked about before is how companies set their D&I gender targets to 50/50 automatically, without any knowledge or understanding of the external talent landscape. Simply put there often just isn’t the gender diversity available for many companies to achieve this goal. Those few companies that are successful in full gender parity are often over-fishing a diminishing pool at great cost.
[You can watch our full live recorded webinar on gender balance and target setting; "Recruiting for balance– understand your markets to support balance", that we conducted with LEAD network HERE]
4 - Become a pro-active force
We often see that “Data quality issues frequently lie at the core when marketing, analytics, or insights programs fail to deliver the expected results” (Jordan Morrow, Reactive vs Proactive Analytics – Shape the Future, Qlik). Not all data is created equal and some information is poorly researched, or may leads respondents, or contains errors, or what you need may just not exist as a statistic. The remedy for this is to be a more pro-active force with those who conduct the research responsibly. If you think that the market is lacking data or not representative of your own experience be present for those studies when they come around and even seek them out, share these opportunities with groups and individuals who you think would contribute to the outlook of the industry, too often are studies producing reports from the opinions and situations of small and unrepresentative section of the whole.
Right now, Humdex has such an opportunity. We are conducting a study open to all business managers as well as HR professionals about the future of data in HR business strategy. We believe that a data driven understanding of the impact of workforce availability and talent is critical to the achievement of business strategy. We all know that the world is changing dramatically. Digitization is becoming more and more important, but which data really make a difference, and what is really needed from HR in the future? Our study is aiming to help answer these questions. You can take part in the study directly at: www.humdex-nextgeneration-hr.com
Or you can find out more about the study HERE
Bringing it all together
The current situation has galvanised us all into action. Data has risen to the top of the corporate agenda, as it is the way to ensure businesses stay agile and robust enough to succeed and endure in a destabilised environment. Yet, having the most data is not the answer, the answer is in being able to handle and direct the information effectively for your own purposes. To do this companies will need to tighten up procedurally, culturally, be outcome specific and pro-active. Data could be the silver bullet answer to future-proofing a business, but it is a bullet that requires long term investment and commitment to use.
We work hard at keeping up to date and informed on the latest trends and news affecting the world of people analytics & strategic workforce planning. If you would like to know more about the work we do, then please contact us.
Author -Scott Brent
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