You might remember the 2011 movie “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt. The movie follows the story of Billy Beane, who became general manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team in 1997. Beane grappled with huge budget constraints leading to one of the smallest player salary budgets in all Major League Baseball.
Consequently, the A’s were unable to attract and sign top free agents. Fed up with being unable to build a competitive team, Beane reached out to Harvard alum Paul DePodesta, an economics and baseball statistics maven. Together, the two of them completely reinvented the approach to player scouting, and they did so by leveraging the power of data analytics.
Instead of relying on their gut instincts of their scouting team or focusing on the top-rated free agents, they started mining decades of data on hundreds of players to build a different strategy for recruiting talent. By diving into the data, it became clear that most scouts were overlooking second-tier players who could play a winning role.
The rest is history.
Everyone else doubted this new data approach, but Beane chose to bet on data analytics, and it paid off. The A’s began winning! They even became the first team in more than 100 years to win 20 consecutive games!
Not only did this data analytics approach lead to the creation of the No. 1 national best-seller book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” and the cult-phenomenon “Moneyball,” but it also showed firsthand how data analytics can change the game.
You Can Change the Game
Like Beane, you can change the game—and data and analytics can be your top-performer as you do.
Despite data being readily available in our organizations, most of us don’t take the time to make data-based decisions. Instead, we make decisions based on old and outdated information. We tend to lead with our gut. And we fail to reach breakthrough transformation because we don’t have enough insights.
Typically, we assume data, information, intelligence, and insights are for the “big guys,” the large enterprises. But the opposite is true. Research proves that small- to medium-sized businesses with up to 100 employees are nearly three times more likely than large enterprises to report the highest rates of business intelligence adoption.
Another major challenge for mid-size businesses is that we have lots of data, but it’s in hundreds of silos—CRMs, ERPs, databases, and good ole’ Excel spreadsheets—making it extremely difficult to pull all the data together. But there are simple solutions to overcome this obstacle.
So, if data is for all of us, why aren’t more of us jumping at the chance to shift from being data deprived and data-rich?
The starting point of transitioning to a data-rich company is to understand where you currently are in terms of leveraging data, information, intelligence, and insights to move your business forward.
Through my work as a business owner and consultant, I have found that most businesses are in one of four states. Imagine trying to drive your car or your business:
- Completely Blind: This is the least sophisticated state in which companies are essentially driving their car—their business—blindfolded. They have no visibility into what they are doing. However, there is a lot of activity, and there may even be some level of success. But, are they maximizing the efforts, or they are simply moving for the sake of moving?
- Rearview Only: Next, there is some sense of direction, but they are focusing exclusively on the past to predict future performance. Essentially, they are using their rearview mirror to move forward. They aren’t looking forward, using their dashboard, and checking the side mirrors. As a result, they have a myopic view of the state of their business.
- Forward-looking: In this state, the business has some strong capabilities. They are looking out the windshield, checking the rearview mirrors, glancing at their side mirrors, and using their dashboard, but they can only see so far. They can’t see the traffic accident up the road. They are not sure what is around the bend. They are not sure if there will be roadblocks and detours. In short, they are using data—both historical, current, and near-future—but they are not maximizing their visibility.
- GPS-Enabled: In this most sophisticated state, businesses are leveraging the power of data, information, intelligence, and insights. They are driving their car with a fully enabled GPS. They have access to historical information, but they can see hundreds of miles ahead. They are constantly looking behind, sideways and ahead, and leveraging data to make decisions that move them forward. With this full-range visibility in place, they are also able to be more agile.
Which way would you prefer to drive your car? Are you driving your business blindfolded? Are you somewhere in the middle? Or are you fully enabled with data as your strategic partner? The reality is that all the information we need to move our business forward is often sitting right inside our business. We need to become more methodological in using it.
Almost two decades ago, Beane recognized the need to change baseball scouting and recruiting. In many ways, scouts were driving the car blind, or at best using only the rearview mirrors. They were recruiting based on no sound information. So Beane did something about it. He started operating with a fully enabled GPS that allowed him to make data-driven, evidence-based decisions that ultimately changed the game for years to come.
What about you? What steps can you take today to shift from being data-deprived to data-rich? How can you shed the blindfold? How can you change the game?
We love introducing leaders like you to the world of data, information, intelligence, and insights. No matter where you are on your journey, we help you gain mastery of your data so you can feel confident and clear about how to move your business forward. Want to schedule a quick 15-minute call to learn more about the role your data can play in stimulating growth? Drop us a note here.