Data, analytics and Leadership : Leadership Implications of Big Data - 2

An extract from Mick’s work on the Leadership Implications of Big Data, from the new book “New Eyes: The Human side of Change Leadership


Long gone are the days of a single genius creating everything.

Edison was indeed a genius – but even he had a research lab. These days, networks help businesses innovate and take advantage of Big Data. These networks speed the flow of new ideas, best practices, products, and services across functions and across geographies.

Historically, innovation came from internal Research & Development groups (R&D), yet ideas can come from anywhere – suppliers, customers, universities and government. Networks are powerful innovation tools.

When Proctor & Gamble’s “Connect & Develop” opened R&D to external networks, results were astounding: according to a Harvard Business Review study [i], R&D productivity increased by nearly 60 percent. Externally created innovations comprised 35 percent of new products (up from 15 percent), and 45 percent of all product development initiatives.

Innovate in technologies to enable network operations

Technology begins with database design made “fit for analytical purpose.” This includes the right data capture systems, storage, processing, and access (Gualteri), and it impacts the entire business.

According to Gartner [ii], by 2017 Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) will outspend Chief Information Officers (CIOs) on data and analytics. If CMOs and CIOs develop strategies in silos, a seamless customer experience will be impossible. Technology enables change, but it is the human being that creates insight, conversation, service, and action.

Delegating this to the CIO or the CMO without an overall business strategy across the organization is wasting the investment and missing the opportunity.

Innovate in the right kind of analytics

The literature is awash with talk about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. But usually CRM is focused on customer contact and communication, and it does not automatically drive new insights and action. Nor do such systems allow constructive two-way involvement with customers. Too often CRM systems are about “push” strategies and handling complaints.

Leaders who let CRM stay in this space are missing an opportunity.

Innovate in a common language

Businesses need a common customer language across their organisations, and need to share this with suppliers and other third parties. A connected internal and external network is of no value if different language is used in different parts of the network.

Language and definition is thus a major change effort – and the leader’s focus on the right language is a daily discipline necessary for success.
Innovate with external networks

Innovation networks drive new product ideas and execution.

Online exchanges between “seekers” and “finders” are now everywhere, expanding the group creating ideas, and dramatically lowering cost. Technology, connectivity, rapid data flows and analysis are the keys to success. Open source must be the organisational paradigm.

The mind-set shifts from “invented here = right,” to “invented anywhere = best.”

Research (Harvard Business Review [iii]) has shown that a large number of novel ideas come from “solvers” working outside the fields normally expected by the “seekers.” In other words, new knowledge is coming from unexpected quarters, including customers.


[i] Huston, Larry & Sakkab, Neil – Connect and Develop: Inside Procter & Gamble’s New Model for Innovation, HBR, 2006

[ii] McLellan, Laura – By 2017 the CMO will Spend More on IT Than the CIO, Gartner, 2012

[iii] Lakhani, Karim R. & Lars Bo Jeppesen, Lars Bo – Getting Unusual Suspects to Solve R&D Puzzles, HBR, 2007

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