Lessons on effective communication for Senior Executives to data crunchers inspired by the 2014 Predictive Analytics World Conference
Big Data, Analytics, sexy models….albeit sexy predictive models (that’s right, math models!). These were the concepts and topics being addressed at the Predictive Analytics World Conference held in Toronto back in 2014. Being a pricing researcher and analytics geek, I was ecstatic at the opportunity to have such a diverse gathering of data enthusiasts all in one place. To top it off that year, topics ranged from the application of predictive analytics on employee attrition, financial risk, workplace safety, production operations, email marketing, shopper basket cross selling, sales strategy planning and my favourite, designing effective hockey teams.
But I wanted to address something that came up as I participated in presentations and conversations that I think is still relevant today.
Challenges of Effective Communication
That is, effective communication between senior business executives and data crunchers, as well as relationships between data crunchers and business analysts.
The challenge of communication between senior exec’s and data crunchers is one of selling the value and strategic vision of data analytics. The challenge of communication between the business analyst and the data crunchers is one of developing useful and usable tactical tools. This is very similar to the challenges I have seen our clients face, with the successful development of a Pricing Management team. I have also heard the same concerns raised over the years at market research conferences. How do we make a bigger impact? Demonstrate our value? Have a seat at the table?
Building a Diverse Team
One solution toward improving communication and understanding is to consciously design a data & analytics team with a diverse set of left brain and right brain skills: art and science, business acumen and technical expertise. Essentially a team that consists of people who have an appreciation for the strategic business needs, market landscape, data management, BI systems and analytical methods and applications.
However, it’s not enough to just have a diverse team. It also has to be designed so there is coordinated interaction, knowledge sharing and a high level of collaboration. If the organization leaves this to ‘chance’ it will not happen. The diverse team will fall back into their skill set silos and the communication bridge will again break down.
Overcoming Communication Barriers
Organizations also need to look at how their teams are communicating with different forms of technology and decide which is appropriate at different times and for different reasons.
I still find it interesting that communication between colleagues is such a challenge given all the new mediums of communication and access: email, messaging, web platforms etc., combined with mobile and WiFi. This is regardless of the professional field: predictive analytics, market research or pricing management.
Ideas to facilitate a coordinated interaction range from office design, meeting styles and cadence, virtual centers of excellence, interactive knowledge libraries and mentoring programs. What else has worked for your organization?
Article written by Greg Thomas, VP Pricing Research & Analytics at Pricing Solutions. Pricing Solutions is an international pricing strategy consultancy dedicated to helping clients achieve world class pricing competency. Greg also writes for the Pricing Solutions Club.