Always avoid "Going with your gut" 5 Beliefs that will help create a Data driven organisation.

James Standen Data culture 1 Comment

I’ve often heard people say things like “we don’t have time to collect and analyze all that data- we’re going to have to go with our instincts on this one.”

Then they say it for the next one.

And the next one.

And when you try (in between big decision times) to talk about improving how you collect, catalog and manage data, the same people ask you- “But what exactly are we going to use that data for? Whats the ROI?”

Here’s the trick about data; You don’t always know which bit of data is going to be the important one ahead of time. Or exactly what analysis you’ll need to do when that next shift in the market/your situation/the universe happens.

But it will happen. And if you’ve not been improving how you collect, store and manage data, then you’ll be unprepared for it then too, just like you were unprepared for it the last time.

5 basic data culture beliefs.

Measuring is about believing, at your core;

  1. Data is important, and is valuable, and requires investment for collection, storage and retrieval. Just as drinking water requires plumbing, data requires managed, maintained infrastructure.
  2. There are universal skills, techniques, and technologies that you can use to better manage it and they are they are scientific and repeatable. It is not magic, it is math.
  3. People can learn these techniques, and developing within your company includes development of these skills for everybody, not just IT people and analysts.
  4. The Quality of data is everyones responsibility. Not just the database owner, not just the department that is interested in the data at the moment. Bad data is a company killing infection- everyone needs to fight it.
  5. Decisions made on basis of data, even if the data is incomplete, even if the data has issues, are better on the long run than decisions made by “Going with your gut”. Moving quickly is valued, but only if decisions are being made through measurement, not random guessing.

Companies who get data, will win. Companies who neglect data, and can’t get their culture turned toward measuring as the default, not as the exception, will be purchased or run over by the winners.

Fight the anti-data forces of evil. Measuring and striving to constantly improve your ability to analyze those measurements is the winning strategy more now than ever before.

Comments 1

  1. James,

    Thanks for bringing up point #4 regarding data quality. This is a topic that pretty much everyone I know understands is important, and they want to fight bad data, but it can be awfully time consuming and difficult to really ensure data collection is functioning properly. Not just because of the sheer volume of data collection points, but the numerous ways that each data collection point can break…

    This is really why the company I work for, ObservePoint, exists. We want to give data owners the power to be certain that their web analytics data is clean and reliable. Any truly data-driven organization should absolutely be auditing each data collection point on a regular basis.

    As a side note, we’re offering free assistance with data quality improvement for non-profit charitable organizations in 2011 – the same great service we sell to big media conglomerates, web service providers, and digital agencies. Perhaps some of your readers could benefit from this initiative. Information is at:

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