A) a 26-tab Excel spreadsheet
B) a 54-slide PowerPoint with 9-point font (to fit in all the words)
C) a dazzling data visualization that he can view from a dashboard
If you answered C, you’re at the top of the class. According to recent research (and common sense) from the Farland Group, a marketing consulting firm, executives simply don’t have time to dig into massive spreadsheets nor follow a highly technical roadmap to the facts that support buying decisions.
The research shows that execs care about insights, but those insights must meet some exacting criteria to get their attention, not to mention buy-in for your data-driven project. Take heed of these seven tips for sharing big data insights with the C-suite next time you’re faced with the big meeting.
- Build credibility with data visualization. Data is essential to building your case for the C-suite. However, it needs to be sharp, focused data. And as Boris Evelson (@bevelson) says in a recent blog, the problem is often too much data. He writes, “More often than not, traditional reports using tabs, rows and columns do not paint the whole picture.” His research is centered on firms upgrading to advanced data visualization platforms to build better stories with data. We concur. It makes more business sense and that’s part of the formula for sharing big data with the C-suite.
- Answer the “so what” for them. As Mark Lorion (@mark_lorion) says, “What’s hiding in your data that you haven’t measured?” If you can answer these deeper questions for your execs, big data insights can grab their attention.
- Tell the story – with data. Data is useless without a story and an outcome. Back up the big data insights with case studies, anecdotes and use cases to tell better stories. Giving the data a human side with these “stories” will help your story get to the decision makers faster.
- Go beyond the “common wisdom and top-of-mind trends.” According to Roanne Neuwirth’s article on the Farland Group research, execs want you to give them data that “ties to their greatest business challenges.” If it’s not in line with what’s keeping them up at night or innovative, ask yourself if the insights are game changing before you present them to the decision makers.
- Make the bottom line case. Features don’t sell execs. Solutions to real business problems do. Showing big data insights that reflect the bottom line or “solve business problems and enhance revenue and profit” are keys to getting an audience in the C-suite, according to Neuwirth.
- Focus on big data insights to close deals. Nearly 90% of execs responding to a survey by CSO Insights, a sales effectiveness research firm, say that sales needs to take greater action on big data. “Big data needs to be a big deal for sales,” says CSO Insights managing partner Jim Dickie. “The amount of prospect information out there is a blessing and a curse for sales reps. Our research shows that there is a need for new tools to help reps find the needle in the haystack.” The answer? It’s why we are so in favor of self-service BI. When the users have access to the data they need at the right time, it gives them an advantage come closing time.
- Be a resource for critical decision support. When execs need data, they need it now. They don’t have time to gather it all up. Acting as a resource on critical decisions can help you gain points with the C-suite. Yet another reason for self-service BI.
- Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on the latest insights and trends in big data.
- To hear how organizations that have adopted in-memory computing can analyze larger amounts of data in less time – and much faster – than their competitors, watch our on-demand webcast, “In-Memory Computing: Lifting the Burden of Big Data,” presented by Nathaniel Rowe, Research Analyst, Aberdeen Group and Michael O’Connell, PhD, Sr. Director, Analytics, TIBCO Spotfire.
- Download a copy of the Aberdeen In-Memory Big Data whitepaper here.
Spotfire Blogging Team