Be bold with digital analytics and make it to the Board!

Hi, it has been a little while I know; things have been very busy this year work wise and life wise so I have not had much time to write here… However, my passion for the world of digital analytics has not diminished.
One of the critical components I feel really passionate about is data governance around digital analytics. I am seeing many businesses with vast amounts of data, a variety of insight tools, very bright individuals behind these tools and lots of insight – But unfortunately, most of the insight is not being spread out across the business and remains confined to 1 department instead. Digital insights rarely make it to the CEO or CFO’s inbox and this needs to change. Digital analytics does need to become much more visible across the business if we want it to make it to the Board.
Why does it matter?
It matters for the business because everyone in the business will have their own perspective to add to complement digital insight – Perspectives which may be rich and help push the business forward. So there’s a huge opportunity cost here. It also matters for our field because just like any discipline, investments are required to remain competitive.
So how do we tackle this? I think there are 3 core routes to get more prominence: more independence, more integration and more accountability are required.

-Digital analytics needs to be more independent in the business:
In my previous blog post, I mentioned that one danger of having digital analytics sitting in one department (marketing, operations…) is that the type of outputs (analysis) can be framed around and restricted to the department digital analytics sits in. Of course the other problem with having digital analytics confined to one department is the potential lack of trust from other parts of the business.
So digital analytics needs to establish itself more within businesses through acquiring more independence. Now, getting to independence stage may not be for everyone right now, especially if the team is really small. However, there are other important steps that can be taken by digital analysts right now so that digital analytics gets more visibility. Getting more independent from an analysis perspective is important but being more integrated with the rest of the business is as important and both are not incompatible.

-Digital analytics also needs to be more joined up with the rest of the business and be more relevant:
Wouldn’t it add value if digital data was being looked at by as many business departments as possible? The good news is that this can be achieved through sharing the love for KPIs.
Now, this journey may well have to start with an informal chat at the coffee machine! It does not have to be formal every day. In fact, everybody likes to work differently. And yes, KPIs will need refining, they will change over time. Many conversations will be required to nail down the right KPIs for each department that needs infecting with digital data. And remember, everyone loves data, so it will be easy to start a conversation and make these KPIs meetings happen.
Of course this is just the beginning of the journey. What we then need to do is get people to act on the data we feed them with. Yes, in a nutshell we are proposing to add more responsibilities to these people’s job specs – For no more money!

-Digital analytics will remain more sustainable through more accountability spread across the business:
A lack of accountability and governance is also why digital analytics remains an isolated pocket of the business. Yes, producing regular insight is a great start but the whole point of insight is to drive positive change. The analyst is of course responsible for initiating change but is he accountable for it? Does he need to answer for change? No he does not. Who is accountable then? The answer is no one truly is right now accountable for answering for it. Not only that but who, within each department, is responsible for taking actions based on digital data? On a lot of occasions, this is not defined or only for a limited amount of departments. Change is being driven through digital analytics but it is done on an ad hoc basis, not through a systematic approach.
So how do you get digital analytics on people’s priority list from one day to the next? We had an interesting discussion on this topic at the last Measurecamp in London.
To me, you have to look at this with a different lens and work out how to turn this into an opportunity instead. And the question becomes: how can you make people successful? The main purpose of digital analytics is to drive better performance for the business, right? So by spreading both the love for KPIs and accountability you are also spreading success. And everyone wants to be successful and play a part in driving positive results. You can convince people by showcasing examples of past positive changes led by digital analytics. If you present this very well and with passion people will want to help you and help themselves. You need to then create a process to facilitate this new journey, which will need iterating of course.

So as a summary, seek independence, get joined up with the rest of the business through KPIs, and spread accountability for driving change. In short, to establish ourselves more, we have to be bold.
That way, we/digital analytics will make it to the Board. Personally, I don’t think we are very far from making it there. ..

Thank you for reading.
Any thoughts?

Best
Penny

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