How to Sell Your Boss on the Need for Data Analytics
Here are some ways you can make the case to your boss that analytics investments are smart for your company to pursue.
Data analytics is relatively new, but it has dozens of use cases. Companies have collected information for generations. More recently, though, tech tools let them evaluate that info and make informed decisions based on what it indicates. Since data science is an emerging field, some business leaders hesitate to adopt it or want to do so at a frustratingly slow pace.
Finding yourself in that situation can be especially limiting if you’re a data science professional. Here are some ways you can make the case to your boss that analytics investments are smart for your company to pursue.
1. Use Accessible Language
The first thing to do is resist the urge to pepper your pitch with highbrow language. Many of the big data definitions you can likely give in your sleep are probably akin to a foreign language to your boss. While figuring out what to say, keep your words and tone down to earth as much as possible.
You may even want to deliver your message to a friend who’s completely unfamiliar with data analytics before approaching your boss. Ask them if they understood what you said and if they felt confused at any point. Also, get their input on what you could do to make the presentation even more appropriate for people without extensive data analytics knowledge.
2. Focus on the Competitive Advantage
Competition is a topic business leaders intimately understand. They know that an inability to compete often results in companies shutting down or encountering intense struggles in the marketplace.
It’s worth bringing up to your boss, then, that many business leaders recognize the link between big data investment and increased competitiveness. NewVantage Partners published its 2019 Big Data and AI Executive Survey to get a picture of the investment patterns related to those two technologies. It showed that more than 91% of the respondents accelerated the pace of their big data and artificial intelligence (AI) investments.
Moreover, approximately the same percentage mentioned they viewed technology investments as necessary to transform into agile and competitive businesses. Representatives from Ford Motors, Capital One and Aetna were among the brands giving feedback. The fact that such well-known names saw the link between competition and big data investment may encourage your boss to follow suit.
3. Understand Your Boss's Motivations
Selling ideas to C-level executives is different from the approaches taken when addressing people that are not in such positions of power. Company leaders do not have to go through a chain of command to get things approved like lower-level employees typically must.
That means the overall decision-making process is shorter. You can facilitate things — and increase the odds of your boss deciding in your favor — by taking a cue from salespeople. Spend time to understand the motivations that drive the person of authority. In other words, think of what they'd most likely want to achieve after giving the go-ahead to a big data investment.
Profits are certainly part of the equation, but you may need to take a more in-depth look to get at the heart of your boss's concerns. For example, what problems might compromise profitability that big data could solve?
In one case, Georgia-Pacific wanted to take a more advanced approach to handle its data and used Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help. The company knew that downtime with some of its machinery could cost the company millions of dollars per year. It used data analytics to help predict some equipment failures up to three months in advance. Spend time thinking about existing pain points in your company that big data could address. Then, reserve some time during your pitch to highlight why analytics could provide such promising possibilities.
4. Emphasize That Analytics Tools Could Make Data More Accessible to Everyone
Your boss may fear that increasing the company's investment could enable data scientists to extract more insights while leaving others in the dark. However, some companies use analytics in ways that break down the barriers that information might otherwise pose.
In one example of a data science success story, TD Bank wanted to make it easier for analysts to utilize the company's information without requiring too much help from data scientists. It ultimately made data sets more available for everyone who needed them to use. TD Bank also devoted time to assessing which tools would help it achieve that goal.
If your boss feels that analytics would make the company's information solely accessible to data experts, be proactive to ease that worry. You could suggest that your boss create a list of the must-have features of a data analysis tool, then offer to spend time researching which software has those offerings.
5. Cite Statistics Whenever Possible
In addition to bringing up companies that are using data analytics and getting satisfying results, try to include statistics in the pitch to your boss. It's ideal if you can find information related to things like money saved, improved productivity or better customer interactions.
It's more impactful if you can mention that a company from your industry saw a 72% cost savings benefit one year after allocating more of its budget to data science instead of saying it saw a substantial increase. Be as specific as possible as you describe the benefits your boss is likely to see after incorporating data science.
6. Talk About the Things Your Boss May Miss Without Analytics
One of the primary advantages of data analytics software is that it can extract results from huge amounts of information in much less time than humans can. You can keep that in mind while discussing how failing to bring data science into the business could mean the company is not adequately informed.
For example, data analytics could show that millennials aren't responding well to a particular marketing campaign, but people from 40-50 like it the most. It may indicate that a certain city is an excellent location for a new branch based on the number of calls from customers who want it there.
Angle your pitch to make it clear that data analytics investments are increasingly necessary in this day in age. They keep people more informed than they'd likely be without such technology.
Patience and Confidence Go a Long Way
Besides keeping these tips in mind, remember that it may take more than one serious conversation with your boss to convince them to give the nod of approval to data analytics. It'll also help if you're confident in what you say.
If your boss asks questions you can't answer, say you'll find out what they need to know and get back to them. Taking that approach shows you're careful yet persistent.
Bio: Kayla Matthews discusses technology and big data on publications like The Week, The Data Center Journal and VentureBeat, and has been writing for more than five years. To read more posts from Kayla, subscribe to her blog Productivity Bytes.
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