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Translating Data Into Action

Seth Adler w/Neil Hoyne | 17 February 2023

The Takeaway ➔

Seth Adler w/Neil Hoyne

“Data is the new oil,” and it seems like everyone wants to get a piece. But what is it that most major companies are missing when it comes to harnessing the power of data analytics? According to Neil Hoyne, Fellow at Wharton, there’s a huge gap that is steadily rising. It’s not enough to just gather more data, of course. You’re also going to need to hire more data scientists to analyze all that new juicy data. Unfortunately, this is where most companies stop. However, is that enough? 

Hoyne attempts to address what’s holding certain companies back from milking the most out of their “big data.” There isn’t one term for it yet, but it’s clear there’s a new role emerging to address the growing need. Some would call it a data translator of sorts. Their main goal is to act as a storyteller able to unlock the power of data and synthesize meaning into actionable functions for the entire company. Thus, attaining resilience through analytics and data science.

Join us at the virtual MADS Continued Gathering for more insight on gaining resilience through analytics and data science.

Whether you are a large or small company, a plucky start-up, or a titan of industry, there will always be negotiations you’ll have to make. Hoyne call’s them “trade-offs.” “The challenging part I think of any role,  and I have a lot of empathy for other people in data science, regardless of company size, is that there's always trade-offs.  You have a lot of data, but the more data you have,  the larger the company,  the more internal challenges you have” clarifies Hoyne. There is no such thing as the “grass is greener” when it comes to data gathering, analyzing, and implementing. The companies that thrive, know how to ride the tension and adapt to change, seamlessly. Currently, we’re addressing the arising need for a third but different actor in the data game. In the past, there were only two major drivers, Hoyne argues, “Companies step up in two functions. We’re going to collect more data, we're going to hire a lot of data scientists to analyze the data…But what we're finally seeing companies catch up on is ‘can we get somebody to explain what this data actually means to people that can use it?’” The simple answer is, yes! 

So how do we start incorporating data translation and storytelling in our organizations in a meaningful way? Adler and Hoyne both suggest that it would be doing a huge disservice to try and pigeonhole your Ivy League data scientists into data storytellers and agents of change. That’s simply not what they’re there for, right? But that doesn’t mean you have to start immediately posting job ads, and meeting with headhunters. Remember, this is still very much an emerging need. Quite frankly, most of us don’t even know what to call this ever-evolving role. What we do know, is that there is a current need now. Instead of looking outside of your organization, take a thorough look inward. 

Join us at the virtual MADS Continued Gathering for more insight on gaining resilience through analytics and data science.

See if you can spot people that already have a curiosity or interest in data and how it informs your products or services. Hoyne recommends, “You have these technical skills, you’re curious about the data, let's see what happens if we nurture that a little bit. Can we connect it? Let’s see if we put you in these meetings, where decisions are being made, can you add to the conversation? And do you want to do it? And once we have that mold, can we find other people in that similar mold.” In many ways, each industry and company is co creating by their most pressing needs and ability to address it in impactful ways. As we all continue to lean into data storytelling to fully realize the potential impact of data collection and analysis, the roles will define themselves and we’ll reach new frontiers in growth and optimization.