What Does it Mean to be Data Driven?

 In News from FirstEval

When organizations and decision-makers use data to drive decisions – rather than anecdotes, “their gut,” or inertia – they are being data driven.  Masquerading as other monikers, such as evidence-based decision making, being data driven requires organizational commitment to follow the lead of data towards greater efficiency, increased profits, and providing clients with a value add.

Three organizations in three different sectors are carrying the data-driven flag.

Mary Juetten of EvolveLaw nicely sums up why law firms need key performance indicators (“KPIs”) – “measure or perish.”  By measuring indicators such as client satisfaction, firm culture, productivity, profitability, and performance, this information can mean make or break for law firms.  My favorite that she discusses – measuring a firm’s cost of client acquisition.  If it takes $2,000 to land a new $1,000 client, then, well, you do the math…  Aggregating new client acquisition costs firm wide is a wise metric.

Marketing firms are the originators of KPI measurement, and Ideas Collide Marketing and Communications does an amazing job of providing KPI data to their high-tech clients.  Whether the data are views and clicks from an email campaign, or memberships in a points / reward system, successful marketing campaigns can’t grow and flourish if KPIs can’t be measured.

The social sector is becoming more and more data-driven.  A few weeks ago, many of us evangelizing data to the nonprofit sector gathered in Chicago at the Do Good Data meeting.  As Steven Mac Laughlin says in his forthcoming book, “Big Data is completely transforming how companies drive their decision making, but most nonprofit organizations are unprepared to make the most of this opportunity.”  One local nonprofit is – Read Better Be Better.  The Read Better Be Better program uses trained 8th grade student volunteers to implement a structured reading program to 3rd grade students.  The program’s mission is to help children improve their literacy skills and become better learners.  Better yet, they’re committed to measuring their progress, as discussed here.  Read Better Be Better is awash in data that measures student achievement and changes in student attitude – and they’re making decisions based on data.

Being data-driven takes a commitment – but yields immensely better results than the alternative.

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