Don’t Fear the Coming KPI Cataclysm

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(This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse and can be found here.)

It’s a centuries-old debate in science whether our world changes gradually or in massive, cataclysmic, shifts. Within the business world an objective look at its history, especially the last 10 years, shows that creative destruction happens instantaneously and the trend is pointing to a sizable cataclysmic shift on the immediate horizon. This post will detail many reasons for the coming KPI cataclysm and the best way to solve problems to survive the coming KPI cataclysm.

Causes of The Coming Cataclysm

First of all, lacking a data culture is a huge problem. Countless horror stories show that companies missing a data culture are a big problem. Having no data science team with a clear purpose and hire the wrong type of data talents leads to the cataclysm for companies. Therefore, in order to ensure your survival of the coming KPI cataclysm, these situations must be avoided: SMART goals for the data haven’t been set; no Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs) are assigned to the data; data is living in silos, instead of a central environment; no governance or access management rules exist for the data; the entire data ecosystem isn’t visible to everyone in the organization.

The second place organizations go wrong as uninformed buyers are lacking feedback loops necessary to assess and improve every part of their data science systems. Companies see data science as a one-and-done process; it’s actually iterative. The horrible result is your data science teams become self-directed, isolated, and bored.

Finally, the lack of expertise in all things data science shows up in dashboard dependency. Although the only way to get powerful KPIs is through data science, about 99% of the metrics shown on dashboards weren’t selected through powerful data science because they already existed and were easy to grab, which causes diminishing returns to set in quickly.

Hope for a Utopian Data Future

Although the above is predictably common, some organizations have proven capable of adopting a culture that uses data in highly creative and profitable ways. Yet most organizations only seem to change when they’re already under threat from a competitor. As organizations start to throw ever-more money at their problem, the bleed becomes too large to ignore. A successful data culture must eventually be adopted, or the business will not survive. This utopian environment allows the organization to move along its data maturity stages, which currently has AI at its zenith.

AI will finally accomplish what economics has only dreamed of: perfect information based on real data and impactful KPIs. The utopia created by use of data-consuming machines, which will be an invaluable part of those data cultures that survive the coming KPI cataclysm, will allow the economy to grow by providing an increasing variety of quality products and services.