Both operations and transformations need to use data – but are you just “doing data” or are you actually using it effectively to drive progress and results. In this episode, I’m giving you 4 actionable tips to help you transform how you are using data and insight to positively change the future.

Actionable insights in digital transformation and effective retail operations

Both transformation programmes and retail operations need to make the most of actionable insights. To do, you need to use data effectively. Using data adds a level of objectivity and trust. It helps you and your business to be more critical about it’s decisions.

In fact, data sciences and actionable insights are becoming more and more critical. They’re becoming a key part of business strategy as the competition heats up and as resources, particularly time and money, become in short supply. You don’t have the luxury of making mistakes, especially if you’re facing adversity in the face.

So, how do you avoid mistakes? You use more intelligence in the way that you make decisions. To develop that intelligence, you need more insight and ultimately, more data – or at least using the data that you already have in more ways.

Now, what I’m not saying is that data should be the be all and end all. Experience still plays an important part. I also believe that instinct or gut feel also plays a critical part too. Instinct represents our sub conscious brain being put to work. It allows some more advanced data crunching and blends the data in front of you with other data and research that you’ve taken in.

1. It must be action orientated

Data is only numbers. Factual numbers. Black and white information. You have to turn data to insight.

Insight is making a connection between data points. It’s telling a story. But you need to do something with that story. You need to turn your insights into actions.

Actions are the activities and tangible changes that make the future better than it is today.

You must turn your data into insights. And you must turn insights into actions. Whilst it might be nice to know a particular stat, if you’re not going to do anything with it, it’s all a waste of time!

2. Celebrate success for more future success

Whilst it is important to look forward and identify those actionable insights, there is also value in looking back. Looking at history can show you when you and your team have done a good job. This is the time to celebrate success. Celebrating success allows you to reinforce the right behaviours. In addition, recognising the success is a great way to motivate the team to continue to perform.

3. Align your measures to your goals and strategy

The data that you collect should be focused on the right topics. It should highlight the right actionable insight to drive towards your strategic goals. The reason for this is two-fold:

Firstly, this the actions that you want to inspire should be focused on achieving your aims.

Secondly, and here, we get into a little bit of science, but by presenting data that is relevant to your strategy, you are training your brain and others around you to look subconsciously for the same patterns in the data.

The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a part of the brain that filters out the millions of bits of info that you see, hear and feel.
If you focus on one set of data, regularly and repeatedly, you will train your RAS to look out for patterns, to look out for opportunities. You allow your subconscious brain to start supporting you and keeping an eye out for what you need to make a success.

Read more about the Reticular Activating System.

4. Make data and insight look pretty

Maybe this sounds a little fluffy. But in my experience, looks do matter when it comes to data and insight.

Retail operations reports often end up being huge tables of numbers. But the human brain isn’t a data machine. It doesn’t naturally look for patterns in lists and tables of digits. In my observations, people feel anxious when presented with such a report. They suspect everyone else knows what they are doing. So what happens, they fake it. They pore over pages of numbers waiting for inspiration and actionable insight to jump right out of the page or screen. However, by faking it, it actually reinforce the anxiousness in others.

Instead, painting a picture from data in an attractive way allows the brain to visualise the data. In turn it can see patterns. It can understand key messages. And that’s exactly when you can turn data to insight. In turn you can turn insight to action.

The bottom line: use dashboards to present actionable insight

Dashboards are a great way to bring together all 4 of these tips. Using an effective dashboard should allow you to:

  • Drive the actions that need to be taken.
  • Celebrate successes and wins.
  • Show how you’re delivering your goals or strategy.
  • Make it look good so it’s easier on the eye.

My final piece of advice, is that you must keep it simple. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to using data.

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