During my short stint in corporate America, I held several cross-functional roles that drew on my expertise in both business analytics and quality assurance. I usually worked alongside or in direct support of one or more project managers on various agile development projects. My primary responsibilities included acting as a liaison between senior leadership and the IT team to elicit, gather, define, document and test business and functional requirements. These experiences provided me with a firsthand account of how important utilizing big data can be to leadership career growth and development.
Big data is used to identify patterns and trends that can yield powerful insights into human interactions, especially consumer behavior. This data can include demographic, geographic and psychographic attributes collected from various sources throughout the consumer life cycle as well as from other areas of each individual’s life.
The idea of big data can seem scary. Data is being collected from everywhere all the time and leaders are expected to know how and when to use it. This newfound responsibility also means requirements to adapt to new technologies and ever-evolving policies and regulations around security and compliance issues.
Despite these concerns, the most successful leaders are learning to embrace big data as a catalyst to up-level their careers in three powerful ways.
1. Become a better decision maker.
Historically, intuition has been a highly favored attribute among leaders. Unfortunately, instinct can only take one so far. Access to big data analytics allows leaders to make fact-based decisions rather than those driven by emotion and belief. It is much better to know something to be true rather than to simply believe it to be true with no other basis for such belief than past experiences. Fact-based decisions have fewer risks, and leaders have an easier time isolating root causes of specific problems.
An executive coaching client, in the role of fund development manager for a local nonprofit organization, used big data analytics to identify trends in giving among high net worth donors. Armed with the compiled information, she was able to launch a new campaign that focused on the specific needs of this elite target market and increase their annual giving by 30%, (a well over seven-figure gain) in the following year. Imagine adding this impressive accomplishment to your curriculum vitae.