We attended Communicate magazine’s DataComms 2021 conference, hearing from data experts in research, communication, PR and digital.
The conference delved into current trends, and asked what impact a better understanding of data and analytical skills could have on organisations.
Here are our top five insights.
Data is often used as a buzz word to fight your corner: “We’ve got the data to back that up!” But how many of us can recognise good data over bad? Have the skills to manipulate and critique it? Have the infrastructure in place to collect different types of data in real-time, and the tools to analyse and explain it?
We need to become more familiar with and skilled in data, improving (as many speakers put it) our data literacy so that we can get more insight from it and make more informed decisions.
Data is a small word, but it can mean many things to different people. That’s why it’s important to have a clear purpose and rationale for the information you’re using. In the same way, that data should be helping you to meet employee and customer needs, and ultimately deliver business growth.
Additionally, as Emma Thwaites, Director of Publishing, Engagement and Culture at the Open Data Institute, explained, organisations must invest and protect their data infrastructure in the same way they would a road network. “It needs planning, standardisation, regulation and shared resources,” she said.
In the panel session ‘Who owns data?’, it was explained that “Everyone owns data, but no one has access to all of it.”
Whether it’s for HR, Marketing, Sales or Product Development, data should be integrated, shared across an organisation and easily accessible to every employee. However, the challenge is to give employees the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the data and extract the parts they need, without getting overwhelmed.
When it comes to using visuals to tell your data’s story, we need more than a pie chart or a bar graph. While effective in their own way, people need stimulation and challenge to engage with your messages.
As speaker Caroline Beavon put it, we’re overwhelmed with so much information now that we can suffer from ‘data hangovers’, where we simply can’t take in any more and switch off.
So be creative and bold, and try a new way of visualising your data. And if you’ve got lots to share, like in a report, don’t repeat the same format throughout. Keep readers’ attention with a mix of visualisation styles.
Every talk touched on the point that data isn’t technology, it’s human. When analysing, remember that there’s a person, a heartbeat, a life behind every statistic, and don’t rely on generalisations. Check for biases and outliers.
And on the other side, giving your data to a company is entrusting a part of yourself. So organisations have a responsibility to act as a custodian of that data, and must prove themselves to be trustworthy enough to hold it.
After all, data is integral to organisational success – from market analysis, to employee engagement, to compliance. If people can’t trust your organisations to collect and protect their data, you’ll miss out on harnessing the power of it.