There are some things to keep in mind when you infuse data discovery throughout your organization. But first, let’s take a quick look back.

Once upon a time, an organization could simply rely on instinct, politics, and tradition in order to make decisions. However, with the rapid pace of technological change, organizations today can’t afford to rely on just those to guide their strategy and decisions. You now need data to help guide you.

According to Harvard Business Review, top performing organizations are 5x more likely to use data to make decisions. Where does your organization fall on this decision making continuum? When you use  data to determine your next steps in reaching your organization’s goals, you enable data discovery to happen.

Data discovery is a practice that your organization needs to incorporate into your everyday work life because it helps you change how you view a problem because you’re using data to help you formulate a solution. However, there are some things to keep in mind when you infuse data discovery throughout your organization.

Here are 5 protips your organization needs to follow for effective data discovery…



1. Give your users access to the data.

This seems obvious, and you might be thinking “I’m already doing that,” but how easy is it for staff members to pull reports and look at data when they need it? Can they do it themselves, or do they rely on the IT team to pull those reports for them? If that’s the case, then it doesn’t count. Sometimes what IT provides might be too technical, or grouped in a different way, or it might even lack a key piece of data that you need. The request to revise the report is time-consuming not just for you, but for the IT team because it’s taking time away from other projects they’re doing.

Ideally, everyone should have the ability to pull reports and queries whenever they need them. Don’t think of it as another team is stepping on the IT department’s toes or they’re trying to “take away their job.”  You’re just making it accessible to everyone because data is valuable to the entire organization, not just one department. If everyone can benefit from using data in their jobs, then why not make it easy for everyone to obtain?

2. Use visualization to amplify your data.

Data isn’t valuable without having the proper tools to help you view data in a more enhanced light. You need visuals to convey your story in a powerful way, and data visualization does just that. Charts, bar graphs, and other types of visuals allow your team to spot trends and see correlations between key data points which can help you make decisions faster and pivot when needed to better align with the overall goals. It also helps you identify what’s working and what isn’t. Your data story needs both data and visual images. You can’t have one without the other or you risk losing the value that comes with data visualization. Just as a story isn’t compelling without these necessary elements (plot, characters, conflict, climax, and resolution), a data story won’t have a significant impact without both a visual and the data itself.

3. Choose the right tools.

Can you recall the last time you experienced technology troubles? When the tools and technology you rely on each day to do your job doesn’t work the way it should, it derails your entire day. Before you decide to invest in a data analytics platform, be sure to select one that best meets your organization’s needs and helps you attain your goals. Every company has different needs and goals so examine what your organization’s data needs are, and then research the data analytics platforms that are available to you.

4. Manage your data through data governance.

Data is only valuable if you know what type of data you have to work with and what it means for you. In order to “know your data,” do these 3 activities at your organization.

  1. Create a business glossary
  2. Create a data catalog
  3. Create a data dictionary

This helps you and your team get your data in an organized way that you can use more effectively. These documents establish transparency across the organization because everyone can refer to these pieces to have a deeper understanding of what data currently exists and how they can use it to guide their decisions and plans.

This also sets the stage for establishing standard operating procedures when it comes to data management. It’s imperative to keep these documents up to date though or overtime they’ll become less valuable to your organization. As your organization evolves, your data needs will too so it helps to communicate that understanding as well so everyone is on the same page to keep it clean.

5. Establish meaningful KPIs.

While having the right tools and following data governance procedures makes data discovery more efficient and useful, you also need to consider KPIs. KPIs give you something to measure your success against. Before you can identify what your KPIs are, you need to know what data you have and if it’s relevant to the organization’s goals. This varies with every company so once you know what they are, you can establish meaningful KPIs to work towards and eliminate the vanity metrics.

Data discovery allows you to find patterns, correlations, and insights that can transform your organization. The more you encourage data discovery across the organization, the more it becomes a natural extension of everyone’s thinking. It gets easier to drill down and filter out what you need and inspires you to ask questions and process information faster.

Ready to Plan?

Contact us at [email protected] or (800) 920-9739 to discuss your association’s analytics strategy and roadmap.