In a recent blog, we discussed the Top Trends in Business Intelligence for 2014.  I also blogged specifically about Storytelling.  In the past business intelligence often fell under IT’s purview, and required a background in statistics and SQL.  That is no longer the case.  Associations don’t need a data scientist in order to benefit from data analytics.  Here are a few tips to get started: data decisions for associations

  • Data has monetary value.  Even for associations, money makes the world go round.  According to Harvard Business Review, top performing organizations are 5 times more likely to use data to make decisions.  Increased reliance on data to make decisions can positively affect your association’s financials.  The more stable your association is financially, the greater the positive influence you can have on your sphere of influence.
  • Sharing is caring.  It is time to blow up those data silos.  To really understand how your association works, you need to understand how your customers interact with your association.  To know this, you have to be able to access information across all departments and projects.  This can include your AMS system, registration system, professional development system and spreadsheets.  Although IT is usually responsible for helping you store and access your data, the data itself is really owned by the association as a business.
  • Project Sponsor.  In order to be successful in your transition, you will need buy-in from your C-Suite.  Without support from your executives you will not be able to sustain the necessary momentum.
  • Leverage Tools.  Powerful business intelligence tools, such as Tableau, allow business users to access and leverage their organization’s data in new and exciting ways.  The business user can access their data visually to unearth trends in their department.
  • Knowledge is power.  Although tools make it easier for business users to access and analyze data, there are still some tasks that will require specialized knowledge.  Make sure your staff has the necessary technical training combined with an understanding of the business of your association.  These two items together will make for a potent data analyst.
  • Culture Change.  Recognize this is a cultural change for your association and it won’t happen overnight.  Spend time to plan out how to transform your culture.

Each association has its own unique culture and becoming confident in using data to guide human insights is a transition.   The main thing to remember is that using data to make decisions is a journey; you will occasionally fall but as long as you fall forward, you are going in the right direction.