Talking Analytics to the CEO – Top 5 Tips
Hot to be an Analytics Star at that Next C-Suite Meeting
Wrapping up my interview series with my client side experts from the Useful Business Analytics Summit, in this 10th and final post I asked for advice on how to communicate analytics insights to the C-Suite. Here are the
Top-5 C-Suite Analytics Tips:
- Dumb it down, way down! - No the CEO isn't a five year old, but if you’re spouse falls asleep reading it, your CEO might too.
- It should be all about the Benjamins! - you better be talking increased sales, ROI, value, or savings…
- Follow the 2:1 Analysis to Communication Ratio – Spend at least half as much time thinking about how to best communicate the answer as you did finding the answer
- Be Prepared to Catch a Lot of Javelins – If you enjoy answering hard questions, this is your Olympics event
- Make sure it’s topical – Most CEO’s don’t have ADD, but you better not be talking about what was important last month!
Q. What ways if any have you found to be most successful in communicating with C-Suite/Upper Management about Data and Analytics issues? [What really gets them to pay attention?]
Simplicity & ROI. I almost wanted to stop after those two words. Take the presentation that you think is simplified, and then have your spouse or partner read it over. Do they get it? Are they bored? Do they get the point? If not – it’s way too complex. Your powerpoint shouldn’t be an aggregation of every fact and figure you have to share, it should be the visual highlights that you want to standout. You can talk to the rest and follow-up offline with data to support the rest.
Most of my interactions with the C-suite involve javelin-catching of hard questions related to standard reports, and come pre-packaged with all the attention I could hope for. That said, I try to proceed directly from their question, stick to what’s being asked, emphasize insights about the data vs. the data itself and put everything that might be of tangential interest into the appendix. There’s less emphasis on storytelling with a C-suite presentation than there is with a conference presentation. “Never Confuse a Memo With Reality” says to spend one minute thinking about how to communicate the answer for every two minutes you spent discovering the answer. I think that’s a good ratio.
I believe what works is the balance between being high conceptual / strategic (discussing the short and long term possibilities of data) but able to support it with concrete examples that they care about addressing business issues they are facing at the moment.
Give them specific data examples and explain how this data can be used to change the strategy or the tactics of the company with following impact to the bottom line: revenue/ profit gains within specific period of time.
A big thank you to all our experts for taking part in this interview series:
Thomas Speidel - Statistician & Data Scientist, Suncor Energy Deepak Tiwari - Head of Strategic Analytics and Insights, Google Sofia Freyder - Director of Product Management/ Product Leader, MasterCard Anthony Palella - VP of Data Analytics at Angie's List Farouk Ferchichi - Executive Director, Toyota Financial Services Jonathan Isernhagen - , Director - Marketing Analysis, Travelocity Larry Shiller - Data Management Consultant, Yale University Alex Uher - Director, CRM & Analytics, L'Oréal Paris
I hope you've enjoyed the Q&A series and look forward to seeing some of you in one of my favorite cities, Boston, in June when I’ll be discussing CRM and Loyalty Analytics in far more detail with a few of our experts.
[Full Disclosure: Tom H. C. Anderson is Managing Partner of Anderson Analytics, developers of patented Next Generation Text Analytics™ software platform OdinText. For more information and to inquire about software licensing visit ODINTEXT INFO REQUEST]
[Above also posted on the Next Gen Market Research blog]