Data is present in almost every discussion about innovation and digitalization. Nevertheless, a lot of our customers face uncertainty, insecurity or helplessness when discussing data.
They store a significant amount of data in their company, but they haven’t effectively coordinated or utilized it. As a result, they struggle to efficiently analyze the information content of the data and leverage the results to their advantage. Some of our customers explain this as a lack of time, complexity, insufficient resources, inadequate IT support, a lack of focus, etc.
Most of the time, a small group of stakeholders recognizes the value that proper data handling can bring, but mostly they often have higher priorities, political differences and other challenges that take precedence. Without compelling arguments, they frequently fail to secure support from top management. In such cases, the right ideas and a suitable presentation of a potential implementation become essential. The controversy lies in whether one should halt daily work to analyze and improve the situation or invest in parallel, leading to a high strain for a limited period. Convincing top management requires an investment in shaping the future incrementally.
This raises the question: How can you start the journey to get more value from data?
There are different approaches and ideas for commencing a data-focused journey. The best way to start is by enhancing awareness of data to achieve strategic commitment from top management and integrate it into the company’s strategy. When the data topic is firmly embedded in the strategy, everyone recognizes its importance, and resources are allocated. However, it’s crucial to note that this approach is not the standard one. To make data relevant, you must make it tangible for top management. They need to see its business value before focusing on data and incorporating it into their overall strategy. This is the point where we aim to help our potential customers.
Our goal is to address the question: How can we raise awareness of the data topic?
There are several ways to increase data awareness within your company:
- Speak with your top management and present, at a conceptual level, the importance of data and the potential for optimization or cost savings. You can support your arguments with research references or KPI’s from other markets.
- Prepare your own small use case. Make it clear to your top management how important it is to store data securely, transform it efficiently and visualize it in a meaningful way. This makes the matter more tangible for your top management and helps them better understand the idea and necessity.
- Compare your company’s data maturity level with that of your competitors. Most of the time, your top management is more willing to invest when they see competitors focusing on a specific topic, for instance data.
- Accompany top management to conferences, events and meetings centered around data. Over time, they will see the business value of data as they gain a deeper understanding of its structure and complexity behind.
- Build up partnerships and talk with partners and colleagues from different companies regarding their data maturity level and their ongoing data-related projects. Identify trustworthy collaborators in your field and establish positive relationships where top management actively participates.
- Collaborate with like-minded individuals within the company to form interdepartmental workgroups that can influence various stakeholders. You can align your ideas and actions to raise awareness. Be aware to marketize your achievements.
- Consider taking bold actions to attract attention, even if it involves causing a disruption because sometimes it is the only way. If you find yourself in a continuous downward spiral, and you always accept overtime, overworked employees and no outbreak of the uncertain situation, you need to take special circumstances into consideration and stage a special event, that requires a lot of courage, to break the cycle. Announce such situations several times in written to avoid surprises.
Challenges during data awareness creation
In all the aforementioned strategies to raise awareness, the most important step is to do effective expectation management and show your stakeholders what you have accomplished so far, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Be transparent and truthful and avoid talking solely about positive things. The truth will eventually surface. Start with small and continuous steps rather than attempting a big change with high potential for failure. Stick to your initial goals during execution, do not overload but leave room for incorporating new requirements in future steps. There is always an opportunity to insert new requirements in upcoming steps. However, you should proceed with caution as there may be various challenges during the data awareness creation:
- Wrong Expectation management – The top management may hear a lot of stories from the big players, colleagues from other companies about how easy it is to work with data, leading to unrealistic expectations.
- Terminology misunderstandings – The understanding of different terms such as AI and Digital Twin may vary between top management and data analysts. You should establish a common language to ensure mutual understanding. The better the top management understands what you are doing the better they can represent your work.
- Overburdening steps – Avoid overloading your initial steps. Every day there are new features, technological opportunities and ideas. When you decide to take a step you are mostly already outdated which is ok and normal. Focus on defined objectives and accept that you can iterate and improve over time. Create something small instead of nothing.
- Less time – Time is mostly limited. Therefore, you need to be fully aware of it and try to coach people and scale your efforts within your environment.
- Focus on daily work – Prioritize new initiatives that can save time in the long run amidst the numerous daily tasks.
- Too Expensive – Before you grow, you need to invest. Focus on the most relevant aspects of data and your needs. Start based on your current and not on your future needs in 5 years.
The most controversial point to take into consideration is the expertise. Sometimes, internal employee’s expertise and opinions are not 100% valued by the top management. Strangely, top management may not see the expertise of an internal employee as credible as the input of an external consultant. External companies can help you position the data topic in a more sophisticated and accepted manner by considering internal expertise and opinions. Combining these elements can persuade top management effectively.
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