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Data needs action, and action needs data.

Data and action need to go hand in hand in the new world.

Lots of data is great but what are you going to do with it?
It’s a challenge facing multiple industries with the popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT) and other fun data related buzzwords. This challenge also applies to lots of different functions within enterprises as we start to hear more about the use of data internally.

The big challenge isn’t gathering the data or even linking diverse data sources, it’s making good use of the data that will shift the needle on your revenue numbers or other goals. With the mass of companies on the market offering services and support to data capture, along with a wide variety of both in house and SAAS solutions for everything from HR to Marketing to Sales automation, businesses have a great potential in gathering data to support action.

The challenge facing many businesses is actually taking informed action from their data.
If your data and analytics leadership sits only within the BI or IT functions, you will be faced with a significant challenge as your other functions business leaders stay in the old world asking for reports and dashboards, wondering why the KPIs are going in the right or wrong direction.

Thomas Edison has a great quote that sets the scene when we talk about data "The value of an idea lies in the using of it."

As larger companies start to get involved with the Internet of Things they are going to be bombarded with data sources they can create, use, share, and connect. The temptation will be to start hiring data scientists and expect a marvellous transformation. Unfortunately there is one other transformation that has to happen first, business leaders need to understand the shift in mentality needed in this new data savvy world. A data scientist doesn’t solve your business challenge or drive your business forward, they help your business leaders do this, and this means the business leaders have to understand data, analytics and how they can impact your business. New companies working on IoT are often ahead of the transformation since their business leaders have already made this mental leap in order to start their new initiative or even have a data savvy/scientist leader in the executive team.

For sales functions in business this same leap needs to be made if you want to survive in the new world. Our tendency to manage by KPI, dashboard, and gut feel just won’t cut it against companies that are truly diving into these new ways of thinking. A sales leader remembering his past glory days, may always think back to what worked well for him or her when they were on the front line, but markets change and both sellers and their leaders have to adapt to different ways of selling. This means that the techniques, KPIs and coaching that worked well 10 years ago won’t work in the same way and we won’t know if the same drivers will move your core KPIs in the same way.

Good data will help us change and guide our sales teams forward, but this relies also on leaders understanding and accepting that data will help us transform how we sell. Jenny Dearborn gives a great understanding of this in her book Data Driven. Sales teams can move from looking at their numbers (descriptive) to understanding what drives their numbers (diagnostic), to forecasting outcomes (predictive) through to interventions that will change outcomes (prescriptive). This involves the same mental shift from leadership that is needed in new markets like the IoT, since your data scientists and BI teams can provide the data but they need your business insight and leadership to drive change through the sales teams.

We are already seeing products and services offering the capability to understand your leads, customers, and forecast your opportunity pipeline better, but sales leaders also need to step back and think how they can adapt to bring value from this information. This can be from adapting specific objectives, aligning on account or product prioritisation, identifying which competitive battles to fight, targeting sellers into specific markets or applications based on their success. In the past leaders made these judgements using limited data and gut feel, but with the right data, analytics and teams in place you can drive important change in the areas that matter to your business. You don’t need to understand it all yourself but if you don’t have the talent in your leadership teams to think in this way, now is the time to bring it in, before your competition applies the same approaches to target your weak points.

Capturing data and doing nothing with it, is worse than not even capturing the data. So sales leaders start worrying about how you are going to adapt to the new world, since it won’t be waiting for you to catch up. 


Comments: (1)

Arunachalam N
Arunachalam N - Mindtree - Bangalore 16 September, 2018, 08:32Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes