A Nightmare on Data Street

As I have discussed on numerous occasions, data-driven decision-making is becoming the norm in most organizations rather than the exception. However, there are still those organizations where members of the leadership team go with their gut rather than making strategic decisions based on staff’s careful analysis of available data.

According to Daniel Scarvalone, associate director, research and data, for Bully Pulpit Interactive, “for those of us who work in data and analytics, this is a nightmare scenario.” So what’s the disconnect? Why aren’t some leaders more impressed with the data that’s being presented to them?

Scarvalone believes the problem stems from needing better metrics. “We need better metrics. We need better ways to tell a story and make our case,” he wrote in a recent blog post. I tend to agree with him about the root cause of organizations failing to rely on data. In our work with associations, we’ve encountered situations where people don’t understand the data available to them or they don’t respond well to the manner in which it’s being presented. Other times the problem is more basic: It’s the wrong data, but it’s all staff can extract from the organization’s existing AMS.

As Scarvalone pointed out, “just because we have a lot of metrics at our disposal doesn’t mean that it’s easy to always narrow in on the right ones.” When we designed Fonteva For Associations, we wanted to make it easy for staff to obtain all kinds of data about their associations.

If the data itself is easier to manage and report on, staff can concentrate more fully on how it’s presented to decision makers. According to Scarvalone, “Now, more than ever, it is important to make sure we know how to talk about the data and why it matters to the overall strategy.”