“Can you imagine a CFO going to the CEO and saying, ‘I don’t really know how to read a balance sheet, but I have someone on my team who is really good at it.’ We would laugh that person out of the room,” Zettelmeyer says. “And yet I know a whole bunch of people in other disciplines, for example, marketing, who, without blinking an eye, would go to the CEO and say, ‘This analytics stuff is complicated. I don’t have a full grasp on it. But I have assembled a crackerjack analytics team that is going to push us to the next level.’ I think this is an answer that is no longer acceptable.”
That is kind of humorous, right?
Here’s the real rub on analytics and Big Data:
- C-Suite guys have been hearing about it for years, so they assume it’s important — but they don’t know exactly what to do with it.
- Everyone’s terrified of it because it could end the era of “the gut feeling of executives” as what matters.
- Somehow this whole belief cropped up that to do it well, you need a “crack data team.”
Here’s a personal story: I’ve done analytics-and-reporting jobs for two organizations (ESPN.com, which is a fairly large one — and also my last job). I have no background in that. I’m not a “crack data guy.” Actually, the two stats classes I’ve taken? I averaged a B-Minus across them.
The thing is, though, a lot of most data platforms — say, Google Analytics at a micro level — is pretty basic to learn and understand, and there are resources all over the Internet for learning more about it. Search them, read them, understand them, apply them. That’s literally what the Internet is there for. It’s an information engine more than anything else. I did it, and believe me, I’m not that bright. You can do it too.
Wrote a little at the end of last week about how we need to actually remember that the data needs to be presented in an appealing way, and that’s a big thing I think people forget. I get burned on this sometimes myself. When I was at ESPN, I used to try and make my data reports funny; like drop in a few movie quotes, etc. Eventually it got taken away from me because my man Dan Kaufman (boss at the time) thought it wasn’t serious enough. I do that at my current job, and so far it’s been well-received. Different strokes, different folks.
Here’s the thing: I understand the need to be professional and present clean, logical data and all that. In my heart and my brain, I get that. Problem is: most people don’t care about data. Even if the data said they were doing their job completely the wrong, illogical way, they’d keep doing whatever it was they were doing before. That’s how people are. One slice of data isn’t gonna change the plasticity of your brain. So, sometimes … you need to present this data in a wholly different way to people. Like with some Twilight quotes.
Honestly, even if you think I’ve been rambling for the last two paragraphs, go back to the quote above. If a CEO heard that from a CFO/COO, he’d potentially fire the underling. So why are people allowed to outsource and kick analytics down the chain to some “crack team?”
Analytics, to me, is like leadership: it’s a concept that doesn’t work/has no inherent value unless it’s owned by everyone, not just some core group.