When it comes to creating a more data-and-analytics-driven workforce, many companies make the mistake of conflating analytics training with data adoption. While training is indeed critical, having an adoption plan in place is even more essential.
Any good adoption plan should focus on continual learning. This might include online or recorded refresher sessions; mentors; online resources for questions, feedback, and new ideas; or a certification process. It might even mean rethinking your organization’s structure or core technologies. Based on my experience, here are three ways leaders can shift a company culture from a one-and-done focus on “training” employees in analytics to an “always on” focus on analytics adoption:
Form competency centers. At a high level, a competency center is a collection of domain experts who are given a goal to improve agility, foster innovation, establish best practices, provide training (and mentoring), and be a communications engine. These centers should be “owned and operated” by highly competent individual contributors with relevant expertise. Competency centers can be established by any type of focus area and require a lead, members, and a sponsor. As part of their mission, competency centers should be answering the “why” questions instead of the “what” questions. For example: Why do we analyze data? Why is data quality important? “Why” questions are about establishing a purpose and direction that will help guide focus and priorities. “What” questions (What are the results? What reports do we need? What data is missing?), in contrast, are about the details, and shouldn’t be the main focus of a competency center.
Create a leadership and development portal. Think about creating a leadership and development portal to house your company’s knowledge and to enable your team to easily share and learn from each other. Ask team members to identify their development needs around topics such as digital platforms, analytical and customer journey marketing, industry-specific training, leadership skills, presentation skills, and product training. Then ask them to create a personal development plan. It shouldn’t end there, because as a leader you need to regularly communicate that developing and learning are a priority. Expect team members to not only use the information in the portal but also contribute their expertise and experience to it. Set an expectation that team members regularly review development plans with their managers to instill an understanding that their ongoing development is a collaboration and a shared responsibility. Our development portal resides in Microsoft SharePoint, which provides instant, easy access from all of our offices across the globe. From the portal, team members can browse information on a wide range of topics, including analytical marketing, customer journey marketing, and product training, in a variety of formats (webcasts, online certification programs, white papers, how-to guides, and more).
Build certification into your training. Just as it’s important to provide different learning formats for different types of learners, it is equally important to provide employees with regular acknowledgement and praise. Certification is an important part of recognition as well as assessment. Your certification program should test for both basic and advanced proficiency in topics such as analytics and data stewardship. For example, marketers can design go-to marketing plans with an integrated channel strategy, and continually monitor and measure results by incorporating test plans that encourage a level of agility where changes can be made based on the performance of the campaigns.
Let’s not kid ourselves — change is a difficult journey, and leading change requires a plan. Consider training a starting point. Adoption requires ongoing vigilance and refining your course to keep you from straying from your goals.