While the data champion advocates for the importance of collecting and leveraging data, data heroes are the individuals at every level of the organization who answer the call, pick up the mantle, and wield data to battle inefficiencies and make better decisions across the enterprise. Like any good hero, a data hero must undergo trials and tribulations, with a little help from their friends along the way, to defeat inefficiency.
What is A Data Hero?
What do Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins, Moana, Indiana Jones, Marty McFly, Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, Batman, Buffy Summers and pretty much every other hero have in common? They’ve all gone on their own hero’s journey.
The Hero’s Journey, also known as the monomyth, is a literary archetype or story pattern that dictates the precise steps that a hero must take along their path to success. These include a call to action, help from a mentor and/or supernatural force, some setbacks along the way, and ultimately a decisive victory before the hero returns home. This story has been told countless times, in countless ways both in writing and on the screen because it resonates with audiences. It mirrors the real-world struggles that we all must overcome in order to achieve anything truly “heroic.” For those seeking to make decisions based on data, the hero’s journey will likely mirror the path to success.
The Data Hero: Return of the Jedi
As mentioned above, there are tons of modern, pop culture iterations of the hero’s journey. My personal favorite example of a monomyth is Star Wars (the original trilogy). In this example, Luke Skywalker is the hero, Obi-Wan Kenobi is the mentor (with a little help from Yoda of course, cue the Dagoba training montage), and of course, Darth Vader and the Emperor as the agents of darkness.
A data hero must also walk the path of the hero’s journey, although in the real world, it looks a little different than Luke Skywalker’s. Data heroes must start by recognizing a need and crossing the threshold into actively seeking a solution. This typically means a comprehensive data strategy and the solution or solutions needed to implement this strategy.
Just as Luke was trained and taught the ways of the Jedi Order by Obi-Wan and Yoda, the data hero will likely have a mentor who will guide them along their journey. This can be an internal data champion, a trusted vendor, or a third-party consultant. This mentor will provide the knowledge, tools, and training needed to overcome whatever agent of darkness is hurting the hero’s company – whether it be inefficiency, data silos, dirty data, or an asthmatic, estranged, Sith Lord father.
The Data Villains Strike Back
It seems unlikely that a data hero will need to defeat a villain quite like Darth Vader. However, there are challenges and inefficiencies that these data hero’s will need to overcome in order to create a data-driven enterprise.
When used effectively, data analytics can reveal operational bottlenecks throughout an organization, but when used ineffectively, it can create bottlenecks of insight. This means that the process of turning data into decisions is slow and is keeping the organization from taking full advantage of their data. One of the best ways to overcome these bottlenecks is by democratizing data with distributed analytics. By granting access to data and providing the means to easily interpret this data, individuals at every level of the organization can make faster, more informed decisions.
Enterprises have long struggled with data silos or repositories of fixed data each belonging to a department or business function that is isolated from the rest of the organization. These silos make it difficult to manage, analyze, and activate data which hampers the identification of valuable opportunities for enterprise-wide improvement.
If data is not accurate, up to date, well organized, and easily understood, the value of data analytics drops drastically. Moreover, it only takes one or two people saying, “I don’t trust the data,” to invalidate a report. When reports become useless it can tank a whole project. High quality insights from data analysis requires clean, high quality data. Heroes throughout the enterprise must adopt a strong validation process that focuses on enabling access to all the data needed to answer queries without sacrificing data integrity.
Lacking a Clear Question to Answer
A critical mistake in the battle for efficiency is lacking focus when launching any analytics effort. Perhaps the most common reason for failure, many companies begin data analytics projects with no idea what they’re looking for in their data. Ultimately, a data hero will always be the most successful when they are focused on a prioritized set of outcomes.
It’s Dangerous to go Alone - Building a Super-Powered Team
No hero can be successful on their own. Harry has Hermione and Ron. Luke has Han and Leia. Buffy has Willow and Xander. Superheroes always have companions and sidekicks. For a data hero, this means building a team of super-powered users to ensure that data is being utilized correctly and teams are collaborating at every level of the enterprise. A collaborative culture enables employees to share insights and best practices across the organization and utilize data-based insights to make informed decisions in critical moments. Ultimately, collaboration provides rich context to key metrics and can uncover opportunities for improvement.
The path of the data champion can be treacherous. It can be full of ups and downs or twists and turns, but the end goal of becoming a data-driven enterprise motivates the hero to keep pushing forward. For the data hero, the journey is complete when data-based decision-making becomes the new “normal.” The hero and the super-powered teams can return to their everyday tasks with the new knowledge and tools available to them.
At the heart of every data analytics strategy is a business facing serious challenges. Overcoming these challenges, whether they be logistical battles, technical dilemmas, and/or cultural obstacles, requires more than a typical business project. It calls for a hero.
Are you a data analytics hero within your organization? Learn more about the path to success for a modern Data Hero in our on-demand webinar, “The Data Analytics Hero: The Roadmap to Measuring Promotional Effectiveness.”