Archive for Data Discovery – Page 2

Enabling the Analytic Workflow

Just as associations have a treasure of diverse data waiting to have a conversation, Tableau offers a variety of options for interacting with your organization’s data to enable association analytics.

  • Live data source connection – serves as a pass-through to a data mart or source systems that submits queries during interaction
  • Published data source – contains connection information that is independent of any workbook and can be used by multiple workbooks
  • Packaged workbook – encompasses data source connection information associated with a specific workbook

Data extracts leverage Tableau’s high-performance data engine that is based on VizQL, a technology that combines data querying and visualization,and does not require the limitation of
completely loading data into memory.  This means that business staff can efficiently explore data with fast responsiveness.
Published data sources can be used by multiple workbooks to benefit from consistent customized folders, field-level customizations, data hierarchies, calculated fields, dimension/measure assignments, and data selection criteria.  This ensures that any changes, such as the assignment of business-friendly names, will automatically be available to all visualizations and dashboards using the data source.  The underlying data is automatically refreshed based on customizable schedules.  Published data sources can also be organized by project and contain keyword tags to facilitate discovery.  These and other benefits make published data sources the optimal option for association analytics.
Data to Match the Business
The process of creating and editing data sources involves interacting with databases or other data formats.  Source data should be optimized for analysis and structured in a way that matches business processes.  A process to align data organization with actual business events and analysis goals such as Modelstorming ensures valuable business staff engagement and future flexibility.  Adding a new attribute involves simply adding it to a descriptive dimension table, while new dimensions can be quickly created and aligned with fact tables representing measured business events.  Likewise, new business events can be rapidly linked to existing descriptive dimension tables.
TableauDimModel
More Data to More People
Business staff throughout the organization can create and edit visualizations leveraging published data sources using a browser-based Web Edit feature that is part of Tableau Server and Tableau Online.  This feature provides an optimal set of capabilities similar to Tableau Desktop and does not require additional licenses.   These features include the ability to create any visualization type from the same data sources as Tableau Desktop.  In addition, custom edit and view permissions can specify which groups can access data sources and create visualizations.

TableauShowMe

The Analytic Workflow
In addition to rapidly creating data sources for exploration, visualizations and dashboards should align with a process for analytic thinking.  A common scenario involves business staff reviewing and interacting with higher-level dashboards to guide focus and spawn additional questions.  Traditionally, the analyst would then need to review individual reports to address an initial set of questions.  Dashboard and worksheet actions enable context-specific navigation and filtering which matches the data discovery process.  For example, a chart might trigger curiosity about a specific product category, such as “How are events including in this total distributed?  Did marketing campaigns contribute substantially to this total?  What are geographic patterns?”
TableauActions
A menu of potential dimensions can be available that guides exploration towards visualizations automatically filtered by the context of the bar chart value.  The result is ongoing questions and answers about the data.  The opportunities are limitless and help foster individual curiously and an analytic culture in your association.  The right implementation of these data exploration capabilities with the a data layer created specifically for the association will liberate the data and enable data-guided decisions for your association.

How Association Leaders Make Good Decisions

Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist, is quoted as saying, “The ability to understand, visualize, and communicate data will be the most important skill in the next decade.”
Notice he didn’t say anything about technical skills like SQL or building a data warehouse – he’s talking about the ability to understand and communicate about data.  The reason this hard to find skill is so essential in today’s world is that because of the accelerating pace of change, we all have more decisions to make and less time to make them.  For association staff this leads to greater risk of making a bad decision, or even worse making no decision – which is in itself a decision.
In our personal lives we use data to make decisions every day and we know that it both faster and less risky.  For example, to pick a book or movie we look to see how many people have reviewed it and the average score, to decide which route to drive to work, we use our mobile GPS or  Waze, how much exercise we need – check the data on our FitBit.  But in association business the decisions have a higher profile and both the questions we ask and the data we collect is more complex.  That’s why the ability to understand the story in the data and communicate it clearly to others is so important.
In fact, what we all really want is the ability to make decisions with confidence.  The way to do that is to have a single version of the truth so that we can understand the story and have a conversation with the data – asking new questions interactively, at the speed of thought.  From a technical perspective the best way to create a single version of the truth is to reduce complexity by transforming multiple sources of transactional data into a logical business layer stored in a data mart.  That way you don’t end up with different answers to the same questions because different people used different criteria for their queries.  But the technical part of this is not the most important aspect.  People think the field of analytics is about DATA – but I believe it’s really about PEOPLE.  People decide what to measure.  People explain the meaning to others and people take action get results.
In fact, the ability to make decisions with confidence is a leadership trait.  To advance in our careers we must be able to do this.  In fact, this is what leaders do – they ask questions, make decisions and influence others.  Those of us who understand the story in our data can make better decisions faster and we can make those decisions with confidence because we have data as evidence

More confidence + good decisions = advance your career!

When I started my career in associations 22 years ago, I was LeadershipDirector of IT for the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing.  During the 7 years I was there I experienced first-hand how important data was.  We didn’t refer to it as “data” – we called it reports and queries but I saw that leadership needed information to make decisions.  I was able to add value and get noticed and promoted by being able to deliver and explain the meaning of the data in ways the Board of Directors could understand.  I attribute most of my success to that single skill.  Years later we’ve taken this same skill of understanding and communicating clearly about the stories we see in data and create an entire business model that focuses exclusively on serving the association market.
In the past there has been a histsory of miscommunication between IT and association leaders.  The leaders would ask for what they wanted and IT would deliver what they thought they heard.  Often the leaders would have another question or want different information or have it grouped another way.  This took time and frustrated both IT and business.  But it shouldn’t be a BAD thing when you have a better quality question!
The reason those of us in IT became the arbiter of all things data is in large part because the transactional databases that contained data were designed to optimize data storage not data retrieval. This meant that most association leaders or staff could not confidently get the data they wanted quickly and accurately without help from IT.  It became a technical exercise to correctly construct all the table joins and criteria.  And even once these database systems built good query tools, it was still difficult to translate business questions into queries and it only took one or two episodes of retrieving the wrong information before confidence was lost in the “database”.  Enter the era of centralized reporting.  But this really wasn’t the solution the association leaders and staff wanted – what they really wanted was to be able to have a conversation with the data themselves.
In today’s world, we want to encourage association leaders and staff to ask questions of the data themselves – at the speed of thought.  This is what is meant by a “conversation with the data”.  Ideas become fluid when we interact visually with data.  We understand images 3 times faster than text and using  visual data discovery, science and art mix, enabling new insights and helping us to see what we didn’t know that we didn’t know.  This is how we make decisions with confidence and enhance our leadership abilities.
 

When is my Association Ready for Analytics?

Often we hear from associations who know they should be doing more with data – they know that decisions based on data are almost always better decisions, but they don’t know where to begin.  Every day we hear in the news about how data is being used in medicine, government and business, but the question we hear most often is, “Is this the right time for us?  Can we afford this?”
coreValues-e1424413820744
And it’s a good question.  Recent advancements in the areas of data visualization and data discovery are game changers because they enable association leaders and staff to see and understand their data quickly so that they can make decisions with confidence.  Decisions about how to better serve their customers, where to find new audiences, how to optimally allocate resources, which new products and services are likely to succeed, pricing strategies, identification of who is “at risk” for not renewing, not attending, not donating and much more.  The key is to look at your strategic plan and ask “How can data help us to execute and achieve our mission?”
The most important thing to consider when planning your data initiative is whether your association is ready to make a culture shift.  Harvard Business Review calls this “a culture of evidence-based decision making” and those organizations that have it have all seen improvements in their performance.  However, most organizations don’t yet have a strong data culture and don’t really do a good job with the information they already have.  This is one of the primary reasons that additional investments in data don’t achieve results.  Data is an asset, just like cash, buildings, or people, and it needs to be maintained in order to remain an asset.  But most organizations don’t know how to manage it (governance and quality), analyze it in ways that enhance their understanding (data visualization and discovery), and then make changes in response to new insights (and measure the results of those changes). These competencies don’t just spontaneously arise once an investment has been made in data.
So how to you create a culture of evidence-based decision  making?

  1. Leadership: leaders set the example.  When making decisions, leaders can model the behavior they want to encourage by explicitly and publicly citing the evidence in the data that supports the decisions they are making.
  2. Hiring practices: analytical thinking is a prerequisite for today’s association. Look for candidates with a curious mind, who seek to know “why” and who are deductive reasoners.
  3. Onboarding: set the stage right from the beginning. During the first week provide hands on training with data visualization and discovery tools which will inspire the new staff to understand and explore the data.
  4. Training: both new and existing staff will benefit from understanding the stories in their data.  With data visualization tools like Tableau, they can learn to have a “conversation with data” and begin to learn “what they don’t know that they don’t know”.  Often this is where important new insights arise which enable the association to grow.  Realize that training is not a one-time thing and plan to invest in monthly or bi-monthly team training sessions.
  5. Performance reviews: reward those that model the behavior you want others to follow. This seems obvious, but we’ve all heard, “What gets measured gets done” – so the key here is to measure and reward performance related to the use (and maintenance) of data.

When is an association ready for analytics?  I believe it’s when you are ready to embrace an evidence-based decision making culture in order to execute and achieve your mission.
 

Harness Google Trends for Your Association

Some time ago I discovered an educational (and addictive) web site that is worth writing about because it can help you elevate your association and spread its mission.  The web site is called Google Trends.  Google’s definition of the site is, “Google Trends is a public web facility of Google Inc., based on Google Search that shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages.”  What Google is doing is exposing their massive collection of data to let you see clearly what is important across the globe and presented it in a visually appealing way.  Here are a few ideas about how you can leverage this for your association.

1. Be the first to know

If you check the site periodically, you can be among the first to know if something is trending in the top 10 stories that relates directly to your association.  Also helpful to note is that Trends covers YouTube as well.  Let’s say for example a video related to drones (unmanned aerial vehicle like a quad copter) goes viral and you are the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).  But adding content on your web site with coverage of it, or pushing an email out to your members quickly so it is delivered when they might be searching, then you are elevating your profile and informing everyone about the importance of your association.

2. Ideas for your visualizations

Taking a look on the Trends site at what is presented and how could give you some ideas or insights on how you might want to look at your own data – or even share it with the world.  Here is a map showing our nation’s interest in the NBA finals.
trends_nba_map
I interpret this as the majority of the country either in favor of or more interested in the story of the Warriors than the Cavaliers.  Getting back to associations, let’s relate the NBA finals to your annual conference.  Do you know what people are searching for on your web site during your conference?  Even better, do you know if those people are registrants?  You likely have the data collected where you could create a map of what people are searching your site for during your annual conference, and you can even publish it on your site with each result linking to the most popular content.

3. Push a Trend Higher or Buy an Ad

During the time of this writing, I noticed that #37 on the list was a tie for “New York City, Food, Whole Foods Market.”  I was able to click through and see that it was not related to our client’s upcoming conference, but it is certainly an opportunity.  Our client, the Specialty Food Association, has a conference in progress June 28-30 in New York.  A large number of people are searching for key words that wouldn’t normally lead them to your site, but a timely ad purchased with Google or some content on your site using the key words could drive traffic or attendance like you haven’t seen before.  Here is a graphic of what I did see clicking on the trend (plus the Food Show graphic I added on top).
trends_food
As you become more adventurous and introduce some of these techniques into your association, don’t forget to have the mechanisms in place to track their success.  That could be as simple as making sure the “how you heard” for your event registration has Google Search or Google Ad, or as advanced as using your site’s own Google Analytics account to blend data with membership info.  Lastly, it would be an oversight not to mention this is the tip of the iceberg.  Here is another great article with 6 more ways you can use Google Trends.

Focus on What Matters – Applies to Association Analytics Too!

ASAE’s recent publication, Focus on What Matters outlines a 3-step framework for selecting and sunsetting association programs, products, and services.  What is fascinating to me is how closely this process parallels aspects of the decisions we make when we undertake an association analytics initiative.  The author, Mariah Burton Nelson, describes the need to take a strategic, disciplined, data-informed approach to focus on what really matters.
The initial steps to implement the Focus Framework are similar to those we follow with association analytics:

  1. Secure Board support
  2. Create the internal team:  People who help create a system will support it.  However the larger the team, the slower the process.  Find a balance between inclusion (which improves adoption) and streamlined decision-making (which speeds time to results)
  3. Prioritize the area to focus on first.  There is no one “right” place to start – it depends on your organization’s priorities

Frameworks

In business we often think in terms of frameworks because they simplify complex concepts or processes.  Once we select a framework, we can then follow the Pareto Principle for implementation (20% of the processes are responsible for 80% of the results).  The ASAE Focus Framework starts with idea generation, followed by product review and portfolio analysis:
focusframework
I see a clear parallel to data analytics, moving from lots of detail in the “Idea Generation” step, to less detail but very high value at the “Portfolio Analysis” step. With data analytics we can group in terms of operational (dashboards), tactical (KPIs and data discovery) and strategic (predictive analytics):
dataframework
Dashboards:  Many dashboards are operational and deal with transactional data.  They provide a way to do what you already do, but in a more efficient/effective manner, using data visualization.
KPI’s and Data Discovery: Analytics in this group include both tactical (KPIs) and strategic (data discovery) and is where we find the biggest opportunity to make a culture change because this is where we begin to have a “conversation with the data” that leads to the “aha” moments which generate enthusiasm and galvanize support for the initiative.

  • KPIs measure performance and enable comparisons of year over year, month to month, weeks out,  etc.
  • Data discovery enables staff to have a “conversation with the data”
  • By answering the questions we know we have, our natural curiosity leads us to ask ever better and more high value questions
  • Identifies previously unknown correlations
  • Helps us uncover what we didn’t know that we didn’t know (which mitigates risk!)

Predictive Modeling: Designed to help organizations make strategic decisions

  • Profiling Optimal Customer by segment
  • Identify Who is “At Risk” (for not renewing, not attending)
  • Forecasting
  • Market segmentation
  • Profitability analysis
  • Engagement

In the book, Mariah outlines the keys to achieving success with the Focus Framework, many of which also apply to data analytics.  These three in particular will put your analytics initiative on the path to success:

  1. Keep it simple.  One of the main reasons business analytics initiatives stall is because they start too large, become too complex and hard to understand, which results in a loss of momentum.
  2. Think systemically. This is critical with data analytics  because we are breaking down data silos and increasing transparency. Staff will begin to think about how data in each business area within the organization affects another.  Data is an organizational asset: it’s not “my” data – it’s “our” data.
  3. Be flexible. A flexible process that evolves over time is the definition of a learning system and is just smart business.  Using an agile, iterative process to analyze data will result in the highest value to the organization and will also support the culture change that is an amazing and positive by-product of a successful association analytics initiative.

The Road to Data Guided Decisions

In filmtrail and literature, roads or paths are often symbols of a character’s journey, usually in search of something, maybe enlightenment, love, identity or knowledge.  In business we start with roadmaps to develop a product or implement a strategic objective, keeping a close eye on the critical path along the way.
The 2014 movie “Wild” is a recent example of this theme, an adaptation based on the memoir of Cheryl Strayed who hikes the 1000+ mile Pacific Coast Trail alone, without any significant experience or preparation.  The long journey is an extreme form of coping and cleansing after a series of life-changing catastrophes including the death of her mother, a long battle with substance abuse, and divorce.
What does this have to do with Business Intelligence and Analytics?  Well, the movie is essentially the story of a journey undertaken to answer complex questions and to see things differently.  Take away the danger, the isolation, and the giant backpack, and you can begin to see some parallels to a business analytics initiative.  You could certainly find more, but these jump out without much digging or connecting too many dots:

  1. The trail – the movie’s symbolic “road to self-discovery” is seen alongside the literal, physical Pacific Coast Trail which is prominently featured.  Like the PCT, in business there is a path of best practices and success stories left by those who have come before.  Over the years, we have developed a proven approach which is used by many data guided organizations to remain on the right path.
  2. An element of risk – in the movie, Cheryl takes a huge, maybe ill-advised risk beginning the journey as an unprepared and inexperienced hiker.  Although there is a certain amount of risk to any new initiative, fortunately improving business outcomes is not so perilous.  In fact, there is a bigger risk in not using data to guide business decisions.
  3. Measurable progress – throughout the movie, the audience is kept informed of the progress through written reports and clear milestones. Without this, all the scenery runs together and there is no sense of what has been accomplished.  Sound familiar?  While they may not come with care packages, frequent checkpoints to evaluate progress and visualize results are an essential part of your association’s business analytics initiative.
  4. Emphasis on Discovery – in the movie the physical trail is paralleled by a figurative road to self-discovery. In the end, you have a vague sense that some questions have been resolved and others raised.  The road to data guided decision making also involves discovery throughout – only with clearly defined initial questions and tangible, actionable results.  While it would not make a very interesting movie plot, this type of discovery produces highly valuable business outcomes.

So, did you like the movie?  Whether you found the movie inspirational or shallow and self-indulgent mostly hinges on two types of questions:

  • What is the journey’s purpose? What is she trying to achieve?
  • Is there any real resolution? Is anything of real value gained?

Judging by the mixed reviews of the movie, these are difficult questions.  They don’t have to be for your Association!  Business analytics initiatives have a clear purpose – better informed decisions to improve business outcomes and advance your association’s mission. Data guided decisions powered by interactive and easy to understand visualizations are proven to identify and reduce risks and to drive member engagement, retention, and revenue.

How to be a Leader in Association Analytics

According to Gartner’s 2015 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms (2/23/15), a key aspect of being a leader in the field of analytics is enabling business staff to perform interactive data analysis without requiring them to have IT or data science skills.  This is one of the reasons that for the 3rd year in a row, Gartner has positioned Tableau in the leader quadrant:
Gartner Magic Quad BI 15
In the past Business Intelligence and analytics initiatives were sponsored by IT with two primary goals:

  1. Provide a single version of the truth in one repository to eliminate inconsistent reporting results and complaints that the “database is not accurate”
  2. Reduce the crushing burden of creating and maintaining multiple reports that really just provide different ways of understanding the same data

While these two IT-related goals are still valid today, increasingly BI and analytics initiatives are being driven by the business staff who want to be able to make better decisions, faster, without waiting for IT. We see this every day in our work with associations – the staff want to be able to have a “conversation” with the data and ask new and better questions, interactively, on the fly, without waiting for IT to create reports. This new breed of business analyst in the association world does not typically have degrees in statistics or data science, but they do have business questions and they know that using data to make decisions will increase the likelihood that their decisions will be good ones.  IT wants to enable the business staff to perform this analysis without impediment, so everyone really wants the same thing.
We all place high value on making complicated things as simple and easy to do as possible.  Consistently making good business decisions is complicated enough – most of us don’t also want to have to learn complicated software in order to do it.  In our experience, enabling association staff to perform data discovery with Tableau has the delightful secondary benefit of inspiring them to begin asking new and ever better questions of the data, which in turn can advance the association’s mission.
But the tool is not the solution.  The next important thing to conquer on the data continuum will be the less appealing but absolutely essential functions around data governance.  Data governance is required in order to maintain the “single version of the truth” and ensure that everyone within the association is using the same definitions for key terms, like “member”, “customer”, “attendee”, and “donor”.  We call this creating a “common language dictionary” and believe me, it’s not all that “common”!
Leadership in association analytics requires IT and the business staff to work together to engage in data discovery and analytics initiatives that result in “democratizing data” for the business staff without sacrificing the data governance responsible for providing accurate, valid and secure data.

Do You Know Where Your Association’s Treasure Chest Is?

Well, do you?  Every association has a treasure chest – of data.  It contains information about your customers (members, nonmembers and prospects), their interests, and activities too.  That’s right, your AMS or CRM system.  It is so important to your organization you might refer to it as a different name, like “the database” or the “membership system” but your Association Management System (AMS) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a goldmine. Great, found it, now what? Treasure chest - of dataIf your association is using one of the most common systems, then it likely has a Microsoft SQL Server foundation for storing data and is designed to be a transactional database, or OLTP.  The acronym stands for Online Transaction Processing and it describes an architecture for database design that is structured to handle the many, simultaneous database “reads” and “writes” that happen on a daily basis.  For example, signing up a new member or paying for a downloadable publication are examples of two “writes” which were likely preceded by multiple “reads”.
Why is it important to understand what an OLTP is?  If you want to use your treasure chest for data analytics, then the OLTP structure is not ideal.  As the name implies, the system is designed for processing transactions & lots of them.  Traditionally the data is broken up into many different tables; which is efficient for saving data quickly and efficiently.  However, the structure is not efficient for analytics and here are the reasons why:

  1. The OLTP Intention – The data is stored at the most granular level (for efficiency) – yet analytics is the study of aggregates and patterns. A system designed around these “roll ups” has a different structure for optimization than that of a database designed for daily operations.
  2. Maintain Speed – Aggregating data can require a substantial amount of processing power on the server, especially when the system is designed optimally for supporting the transactions of a thriving business. It’s never a good practice to perform complex analytical computations on a transnational database because you run the risk of bogging down the entire system and even locking out new transactions.
  3. Data Separation – There might be other (OLTP) systems with valuable analytics data that can be blended in with your primary system such as: web site analytics, accounting, or sales commissions. If a common field can be mapped between the systems then the data can be analyzed together for additional insight it belongs in a data mart, not a transactional system.

That is enough about the problems, what is the solution?  Build a data mart!!  Here is a simple definition of a data mart “a body of historical data in an electronic repository that does not participate in the daily operations of the organization.”  Moving key data to another system (the data mart) resolves the issues mentioned and provides the foundation for your association analytics.

The Story in your Association’s Data

Did you know that a 2% increase in retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%  and the most effective way to increase retention is to increase customer engagement.  I use the word “customer” instead of member because nonmembers engage with us as well. DSK Data Story
So how can we increase engagement?  The answer is hidden in your data.  Data is one of the most important assets an association has because it is unique in its detail and context and can be used to ensure that you are optimally positioned for growth, while remaining relevant and viable in the increasingly competitive world of trade associations, individual membership societies and voluntary organizations.  Information you glean from your data can put your organization in a unique thought leadership position and enhance your ability to communicate to your target audiences. Your data also tells the story of customer engagement and who is at risk.
The evidence is clear: Data-guided decisions tend to be better decisions. Harvard Business Review has gone so far as to say, “Leaders will either embrace this fact or be replaced by others who do.”  Organizations that learn how to combine domain expertise with data will pull away from the competition.
But research conducted by MIT shows that only 20% of organizations believe they have access to the data they need in order to make good decisions.  This is because in the past it was difficult for business leaders to quickly access and understand their data. Traditionally data was stored in a way that only IT staff could access and when business leaders asked questions they had to wait while IT created reports.  Once the reports were delivered, often they spawned new questions, which meant waiting again for more reports.  Business leaders could not confidently ask questions by interacting directly with their data.  This process hasn’t worked well for either IT or leadership.
The answer is providing a single version of the truth with a visual interface that allows business leaders to have an interactive “conversation” with their data.  Data discovery techniques combined with visualizations allow association staff to ask new questions of the data in real-time, without asking IT staff for assistance with every request.  This is not only more efficient from a time perspective, but it more closely models how we think and makes it easy to ask ever more insightful and precise questions of the data. It also frees up the IT staff to work on other initiatives.
Although it is important to get the technical aspects of data analytics correct – it is really about people and change.  It is people who decide what to measure and people who take action on the results of the measurements.  This is why we say it is important to make “data guided” decisions, not “data driven” decisions.  When starting an analytics initiative, the first step is to identify and prioritize the business questions.

  1. What are the questions you have, the answers to which if you knew, would enable you to position your association to grow and advance your mission?
  1. Are there decisions you are making that you feel you do not have all the information you need to make the decision? What are those decisions?

Once we have prioritized business questions, the next step is to determine if we have the data we need to answer them, and if not, we develop a strategy to obtain it.
I’ve heard many stories of stalled analytics engagements where the first step was to look at the data to see if they could find “something interesting” – in the hopes of finding a magic bullet that would lead to growth.  I find Steven Covey’s adage, “begin with the end in mind” to be sage advice and recommend gaining clarity on our business questions as the first step on the business analytics journey.  Often one of the most important questions, is “How are our customers engaging with us and which ones are at risk?”  The answer to this question is hidden in your data, waiting for you to understand the story it is telling.

Liberate your Data! Data Discovery Benefits Every Association

The freedom to explore your association’s data is at your fingertips with an intuitive, interactive and visual data discovery tool. Each person within your association can reach a new level of understanding and excitement about data! Going from static reports to dynamic and robust visualizations is not just a developmental feat, it is part of a cultural shift. Conversations that used to start with “How many people are coming to conference?” can evolve into “I noticed that our level 2 registrations aren’t trending as well as last year.” By encouraging this kind of thinking, your staff can begin to share their observations and make changes which enable your association to become faster and more responsive to your customers’ needs. This ability for anyone to explore data and draw meaning from it is called data discovery.  At data-guided associations, all levels of staff can look at their data, uncover the often hidden meanings, and translate that into actionable insight. Here are a few ideas to make data discovery a norm for your staff. liberate your data DSK

Liberate your Data

  • Encourage everyone within your association to view your data – don’t segment data or lock it down to only certain people.
  • Automate delivery of critical information. Using the Tableau subscriptions, you can ensure that staff can easily and regularly review critical information with the most recent data right from their inbox (no extra login required!). They can also easily click within the email to go to the interactive dashboard. See the details here.

Intuitive and Visual

  • The idea here to is make exploring data part of a natural thought process so that when a staff member has a question or sees something they want to investigate, they know intuitively how to navigate around to find more information.
  •  Build interactive dashboards to make exploring the data easy by allowing natural navigation from summary level to detail level. Also use easy-to-understand filters.
  • Visualizations not only allow the human brain to process information more effectively, it also encourages creative thinking and allows you to draw new conclusions and ask questions you would not have thought to ask before “seeing” the data.  It solves the problem of “How can I learn what I don’t know, that I don’t know?”.  Because by answering the questions you know you have, new questions will naturally arise.

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

  • In this increasingly electronically social world, people are already used to posting statuses and comments and having everyone see and comment back. This can be extended to data discovery as well. With Tableau, if a subject matter expert discovers something compelling in the data, they can:
  1. Easily click “share” and send a link to the team. The team can them immediately dig into it and add their own insight.
  2. Comment directly on the dashboard.

By taking concrete steps to increase the accessibility and availability of data, presenting data in a way that is intuitive and visual, and encouraging collaboration, your association can make the most of a huge, often unrealized asset – your data!