Big Data

The Persuasion – and Politics – of Big Data

Success with data-driven decision-making requires moving the right people toward a non-debatable goal, business-driven, with a feasible plan, well-incented and operating over strong platforms. That takes negotiation and persuasion, the twin arts of political management.

There are two common fronts on which the political battle will be fought.

Data acquisition

Whether for a supply chain, omnichannel marketing, or health records exchange, you may not own much of the data you need and will use. Data will be stuck inside systems you don’t control, in strange formats, and with legal strictures attached. Provenance may be unclear.

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To free up others’ data and bring it onto your platform, you’ll need to negotiate and persuade, then deliver on the promises you made to get the data in the first place.

One issue will be governance. Who owns the data you will be sharing? Agencies and business owners can square off on this, for example. How will the data be used once it is shared? There will need to be agreements around purposes and uses. Who will be responsible for security and confidentiality? No one wants any eyeballs but those authorized to view highly confidential data.

These are some of the critical issues that sound governance must address.

Shifting gears from finger-in-the-wind to data-driven

“Getting people to take the medications that they know are good for them is still a challenge,” Michael Palmer, the head of innovation at Aetna, recently told an interviewer. The same is true for corporations. Think of data-driven decision-making as the new “medicine” for firms.

How to get this done?

At EMI, David Boyle called upon his own empathic skills for persuasion. His data replacing experienced scouts’ gut feel? That was a powerful headwind. The key was a slow process of negotiation and persuasion, backed by clear business wins, all the while shifting to new, data-driven business models. The shift, which was huge, appeared to be quite small to start, with the wins still owned by others, same as it ever was.

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