The Role of Data in a Remote World
Exploring the challenges and solutions of delivering data to the right people, in the right way…
Our new reality presents many challenges. Here, we’re discussing that of businesses and market researchers, specifically.
With team members scattered, there are no face-to-face meetings, watercooler conversations, or other activities that help employees and other key stakeholders better understand data and the insights behind them. So, how do you deliver meaningful data in a remote world? We’ve compiled challenges and suggested solutions, that will hopefully spark ideas and help us all continue to deliver data that is inspiring and meaningful.
Let’s start off by noting some key trends we could expect in market research, customer experience (CX), and employee experience (EX):
- Customer and market research studies will continue to provide businesses with insight during these unprecedented times.
- There will be changes in how consumers consume and receive in this new environment. Businesses will seek to understand how consumers’ attitudes and behaviors are changing.
- Large scale studies designed to capture and understand peoples, attitudes, behaviors, and emotions are emerging.
- Measuring and tracking ad effectiveness and messaging is still paramount for businesses during these times.
- EX programs will gain momentum and rival the importance of CX programs.
- CX programs will be critical as businesses have to respond at pace to new experience demands.
- As we tread through and eventually emerge, innovation will become critical.
Key takeaway: Data is needed to understand people and inspire growth.
CHALLENGE #1: Empowering all stakeholders to explore insights
Based on business needs, the insights team will continue to complete studies. But how do insight professionals make sure decision-makers remain engaged and are able to appropriately use the information? It is increasingly important to ensure that data (the consumer story) continues to be delivered to the right people in the right way. Furthermore, we have to ensure that the right understanding and insight or action is taken.
Solution: As it usually would, the insight team will analyze study data and deliver a presentation or workshop – now online. However, that’s often not enough. Put the data in the hands of the stakeholders by providing each of them with online access to the data post-session. This will empower them to explore, extract and create insights, at pace and ease.
CHALLENGE #2: Facilitating and encouraging knowledge sharing
Your employees continue to be a wealth of information. They’re on the front lines, communicating with clients, and have a pulse on conversations, sentiments and concerns. Moreover, they’ve tried a few approaches out – some that have worked, others which haven’t. Wouldn’t it be great if they could share that with others within your organization, to improve processes? It is critical to enable and allow every level of an organization to access and share information.
Solution: No secret to the answer here: online. In a world of remote work, online is both a social interaction tool for teams and for businesses it is a management tool. What might that mean in practice?
- Provide a template for knowledge-sharing, making it easy for employees to know what information to share and how.
- Make sure you have an archive of these insights that is available to everyone.
- Encourage employees to give kudos to one another, share which insights they’ve applied or found useful. That could be through an internal chat or comments.
- Start an internal newsletter highlighting knowledge-sharing pieces.
- Organize company-wide online workshops. Put employees into breakout rooms to share and compile best practices that can later be shared with the entire organization.
CHALLENGE #3: Managing crises quickly and effectively
Putting fires out is hard enough as it is – and presently, there seem to be more fires, with a need for quicker reaction, yet team members are spread out. With everyone working remotely, communication can be slowed down, and proactive decision making is more difficult. Nevertheless, it is more important than ever for organizations to build trust by reacting quickly and effectively. Decision-makers need to be empowered to make smart and fast decisions. But how?
Solution: To act efficiently and effectively, data and quick decision-making are essential – at all levels. This can only be achieved if all employees are provided with relevant data and facts. This should be used to advance business success and, in some cases, address crises. What are some practices you could implement?
- Emphasize the need for fact-based decision making amongst everyone in the organization.
- Make sure that all employees have relevant information at all times. This might mean that more information is needed than is currently available.
- Enable each employee to analyze data independently and thereby actively contribute to the decision-making process in their area of responsibility.
- Empower employees to make decisions, not just provide information – reinforcing trust.
- Actively manage the danger of silo thinking, as it stands in the way of any crisis management. Create transparency based on facts and bring all those involved together, allowing for a common understanding of the crisis you need to overcome.
CHALLENGE #4: Ensuring executives and other decision-makers can still implement actions
With many organizations and its employees entering the world of remote working nearly overnight, little time was given to adjusting processes to better suit our new reality. Decision-makers may be asking themselves if they’re still in the position to make decisions and, above all, execute.
The opportunity to “sit down briefly” and discuss current challenges has been eliminated. And while online communication is present, it tends to be more functional. The often important discussions around feelings and emotions, what’s right, wrong or common sense – all step into the background to address the topics on the agenda. At the same time, it’s more difficult to manage different points of view and potential conflicts between participants than with offline meetings. This poses great challenges for all participants, particularly where decisions are made in a team.
Solution: Reinforce communication and facilitate decision-making. It is important that all team members perceive, interpret, and evaluate situations equally. We need to transfer live processes and habits into the online world. Ask yourself what can your company do to support and enable this? Some ideas below:
- More often than before, try to understand how communication and decision-making processes work. Survey employees regularly, find needed insights, and optimize accordingly.
- Establish more structure in meetings and include a “facts” agenda item in all meetings. This way everyone will be informed. Remember that the important “meetings in the hallway” are no longer possible, so a lot of information is not passed on as it previously was.
- Be transparent and, again, place emphasis on the facts. Remote work makes it more difficult for relevant decision-makers to become aware of rumors and react accordingly – this helps to slow that down.
- Use appropriate analysis and reporting tools to support and help achieve a common understanding. Motivate people to regularly use these tools.
- Consider implementing more action planning tools. These can help to create more commitment, while also documenting the decisions made. All involved can keep an eye on what is happening, but also feel a greater commitment and urgency to act.
We hope the listed challenges and solutions will assist you in addressing concerns both within your own organization and your clients’. The key takeaway here is to use data to increase transparency and empower team members.
Some other resources that might be useful in present times: