Chapter 4Achieving Data Enlightenment:Gathering Data in the Morning and Changing Your Business's Operations in the Afternoon

Not Just Another Person with an Opinion

Without data you're just another person with an opinion.

—W. Edwards Deming

In 2013, The Economist studied the data strategies of 530 companies.1 Those executives who considered their companies to be ahead of their peers in the use of data cited culture as the single biggest contributor to becoming a data-driven company. Unifying the silos, digitizing the card catalog, quelling the brawls, and satisfying the breadlines are all necessary steps, but inculcating a data-driven culture is far more fundamental.

What do we mean by data-driven? Most every company in the world today depends on data. But the vast majority of them use data in retrospect, to understand history, not to drive decisions.

Does the prevalent use of dashboards mean a company is data-driven? A collection of metrics smattered on a wall-mounted television screen or e-mailed twice a day certainly can inform management about its company's progress, but we believe it's not enough. Dashboards don't usually change the way employees operate the business.

When we say data-driven, we're talking about companies that operationalize data. We're talking about businesspeople who use data to change the way they work right now and later this afternoon, who consult data before developing new products, speaking to customers, or designing an ad campaign. We were talking ...

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