To recap the first blog on Blindfolded Decision-Making: I discussed how businesses who use data at the center of their decision-making will ultimately save money. That is because when you use data to improve on processes and efficiency, eventually you will spend less on resources, times, legalities and more.
In Part 1, I used the analogy of driving a car to illustrate the seriousness of using data in your decision-making process. “Think of using data like driving a car. If a driver’s side view mirrors are not properly adjusted when operating a motor vehicle, the driver will experience blind spots. Blind spots can inhibit the driver’s ability to observe objects that are obscured from the general view…”
This blog will further explore how in the case of using your mirrors to drive, data helps you to: 1) see things you would not ordinarily see, 2) view things from a new or different perceptive, and 3) reflect a light on your company’s image.
1. Data helps to see beyond the ordinary. Learning how to read and interpret data can help you see things you would not ordinarily see. Think about the data usage on your cell phone bill. My family has a shared plan with Verizon. There is a report that shows the amount and percentage of our 15G allowance that has been used each month. That report is fine as long as we do not go over our allowance. The moment we are at risk of exceeding 15G and receiving an overage charge, then that information is no longer sufficient for me. At that point, I want to know who is using the most data and why. I cannot quickly determine that level of detail from a general summary or overview. I need particulars about the data usage for each line because with that information I can specifically target the culprit putting our account at risk. Usually it is my son. Just like I, and many others, use cell phone data usage reports to monitor data usage and avoid extra costs, companies should want to use data to monitor all types of activities to save money and avoid frivolous expense.
2. Data helps to view new or different perceptive. What you see when you look in the mirror is not always how other people see you. The same goes for data. In business, you may think you’re floating along just fine; your profit margins are up, both employees and customers seem satisfied. This perception could be based off of one set of data, and may be true, until you look at other data or the same data from a different view. Then you find there are gaps and that you could actually have higher profit margins if your sales team was more productive. While the bottom-line number may be favorable, unless you carefully consider other aspects of the process involved, you will never know where the gaps are and how to work to fix them. It is important in business for the decision-makers to view all aspects of the data to have a complete picture, not just the bottom line or outcomes.
3. Data helps reflect the company’s image. Just like a mirror reflects a light that displays the attributes of an object or image in view, data is a natural reflector of your company’s image. It tells the story, gives a big picture and microscopic view along with exposing the organization’s unique characteristics. What we want our image to be and what the data actually tells us may be two different things. Take a high revenue retailer like Walmart for instance. They continually rake in billions of dollars in revenue each year. Probably because their prices out beat many of their competitors, they are conveniently located around the country, they have a wide selection of products, and offer many services such as optical, bakery, and auto care. They are a one-stop shopping retailer for sure. But, while the sales revenue may be glowing, data from customer feedback and reviews may paint another story. Think about your last trip to Walmart. Does your impression of the company’s image tend to coincide with their revenue performance? Businesses should use data to become knowledgeable about what story their business really tells. They should use data to track those desirable/undesirable company traits and to improve on or maintain the core essence of who they are.
The only sure way to improve your business outcomes is by first knowing where you are in respect to where you want to be. If you are not using data to help you determine that then you are operating with blinders on.