In this episode, Jason talks to Guy Lehman, who was Chief Data Officer and Data Strategist at multiple organisations before joining the Cynozure team as a consultant.
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In today’s data-driven world, it’s essential to get your organisation on board with the value of data. One way to do this is by sharing data value stories, which highlight the tangible benefits of data-driven decision-making.
01:10 Guy’s journey in Data and how he went from computer science and finance to becoming Chief Data Officer, leading teams of up to 700 members
03:47 How working across different organisations and companies gives a deeper perspective
05:20 How to bring your organisation with you when you are trying to deliver value
08:50 What is a data story and creating a business use case
16:06 Should you put forward a data story from the perspective of the data team or the stakeholders
19:17 How to connect the value the data team provides and the actual groundwork they do
24:00 Use case about creating a value story for an aerospace company
26:30 The importance of getting ‘buy-in’ from the very beginning
34:04 Why communication beats education when it comes to proving value
In today’s world, businesses are increasingly recognizing the importance of data-driven decision-making. However, it can be challenging to get everyone on board, especially when there is a knowledge gap between technical experts and business leaders. One way to bridge this gap is by talking about data value from a business perspective, rather than a technical one.
To create effective data value stories, it’s crucial to start by understanding the business’s environment and the problems that matter most to it. These ‘meaty’ problems are often complex and multi-faceted, and solving them requires a nuanced understanding of the business’s goals, stakeholders, and data sources.
Once you have a clear understanding of the business’s environment and the problems that matter most to it, you can start to create a data value story that speaks to these issues. The key is to focus on outcomes and impact, rather than technical details. For example, instead of talking about the algorithms or statistical models used to analyse data, you could highlight how data-driven decision-making has helped solve a specific problem or achieve a business goal.
To ensure that your data value story resonates with the business, it’s important to put it in a way that is relevant to the business’s goals. For example, if the business is focused on reducing costs, you could highlight how data has helped identify inefficiencies or waste in the organisation, leading to significant cost savings. Alternatively, if the business is focused on improving customer satisfaction, you could showcase how data has helped identify customer preferences and behaviour, leading to more personalised and effective marketing campaigns.
A data story is a way to communicate insights from data in a compelling and impactful way. At its core, a data story is about the value that data provides and why it matters. To create a strong data story, it’s important to be able to position it in a way that has external value. In other words, it’s not enough to simply point out that something should be done because it’s the right thing to do. Instead, you need to be able to articulate the specific value that your data story provides to the organisation.
To create a strong data story, it’s important to own more of the process. This means not only collecting and analysing the data but also taking ownership of how it’s communicated and presented to stakeholders. The key to a successful data story is to focus on the story itself. This means framing the insights in a way that is easy to understand and resonates with the audience.
People are sometimes interested in different things when it comes to data, and these interests can be broadly categorised into three main categories: revenue, risk, and cost. Depending on the phase of the business and its goals at the time, it may be a blend of these three categories that you need to concentrate on when positioning your value story.
For example, the CFO may be more interested in cost and revenue, while legal and compliance teams might be more focused on risk. By understanding the specific interests of different stakeholders, you can tailor your data story to better resonate with their needs and priorities.
The role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) is critical when it comes to creating a value story for data-driven decision-making. There is often a disconnect between the work being done and the actual value that data brings to the organisation. This is where the CDO can step in and help to bridge that gap. One of the key responsibilities of the CDO is to understand the outbound and inbound value of the data. This means not only understanding the value that data provides to the organisation but also understanding how it can be leveraged to drive value for customers and partners.
The ability to say no to certain things is also important for the CDO. Not all data initiatives will provide value, and it’s important to be able to prioritise and focus on those that will have the most impact. This means holding partners accountable by giving a number, such as the expected return on investment, and being able to back that up with data. A crucial perspective shift is from seeing the data team as a ‘profit centre’ rather than a ‘cost centre.’
Another important role of the CDO is to help partners figure out what the value of data is. This requires a shared understanding of goals and objectives, as well as a deep understanding of the business environment and the problems that matter most. By working collaboratively with partners, the CDO can help to identify areas where data can drive value and create a compelling value story that resonates with stakeholders.
Getting buy-in from different people across the organisation is essential to the success of data-driven decision-making. While different stakeholders may have different priorities and interests, there are several key strategies that can help to build support and engagement across the organisation.
For example, CFOs can be very supportive of data initiatives because they understand the importance of data in driving business success. By focusing on the value that data brings to the organisation, and demonstrating how data can help to improve financial outcomes, you can build support and buy-in from this important stakeholder group.
Another key strategy for building buy-in is to build a reputation for being innovative and driving value. This means not only delivering results but also communicating those results in a way that resonates with stakeholders. By showcasing the tangible benefits of data-driven decision-making, and demonstrating how it has helped to solve business problems or achieve business goals, you can build a reputation for being a valuable contributor to the organisation.
Communication is also a key part of building a brand and connecting people across the organisation. By being an excellent communicator, you can build trust and credibility with stakeholders and help to drive engagement and buy-in. This means not only communicating the technical details of data initiatives but also translating those details into a language that resonates with different stakeholders.
Creating a value story for data-driven decision-making requires a deep understanding of the business environment, goals, and challenges. By focusing on outcomes and impact, and positioning the data story in a way that is relevant to the business’s goals, you can build a culture that values data-driven decision-making.