Winning the eMetrics Summit, Top Tip Award may not be the most prestigious honor you’ve ever hoped to secure, but it did come with a cash prize of $20 for each winner. Plus, the advice was illuminating and instructive.

The “One Weird Trick I Wish I’d Know Sooner” Roundtable competition happened in Chicago last month and was illuminating because none of the four winners mentioned a new data stream, a unique analytics technique, a scripting short cut or even a cool analytics tool.

Instead, they all talked about ways to become more in tune with your organization through communication.

Ask Me Another

The first tip was an oldie but a goodie.Tell me more

What do you do when a senior executive – or anybody for that matter – asks you for a specific number?

Just keep asking them why they want to know.

“Yes, I will get that for you, but can you tell me what business decision you’re trying to make based on that information? Because I’ve got a whole bunch of really rich data that might be revealing and will interest you as well.”

Solid advice.

Slack Bots

The second winner pointed out how people stop looking at dashboards within days of pressuring you to create them. Within weeks, they stop opening emails with attached reports that you slaved over to automate. They immediately ignore the interactive access you’ve given them to a multitude of analytics packages.

What’s an analyst to do?

Automate with Slack bots so that alerts show up in their Slack feeds (or Google+ or Skype or RSS feed or Trello, etc.).

04 SlackThese will only pop up when that threshold trigger sprouts a notification so it won’t be that repetitive message, so easy to disregard. Instead, you can set them up in different ways for different people for different purposes.

You can also take advantage of IFTTT or any of the dozens of available Slack bots for analytics.


Animation in All Things

Another tool for effective communication mentioned was Jing. Jing allows you to record a narrated video of your screen.04 Jing

Came across an interesting correlation?

Pull up the report and circle the important bits while cross-referencing it with completely different output from a different system in another window.

Show how that exposed a useful and potentially valuable insight.

Sharing these recordings is like having the recipient looking over your shoulder as you say, “Let me show you how these elements fit together.”

Being limited to five minutes feels like a drawback at first, but then you realize every video should really only be 30 seconds or nobody will open the second one you send.


Go Learn Something

Jason Martin, Digital Marketing Strategist at Humana came up with the Top Tip that sparked this post.

In order to do your job well, you have to get your head deep into the data and spend a fair amount of time in front of your screen.

That’s where the problem lies according to Jason.

The first issue is that you get so intrigued by the data and the process, that you want to share that process with others who are not intrigued.

You just can’t understand why they don’t immediately see the acute coolness of your progress.

That’s just the first problem and it’s the easiest to fix: Give them the answer without going into gruesome detail. Feed them the sausage without making sure they understand how it was made.

The second – and much bigger problem is understanding the problem you are solving.

The numbers inherently expose what has happened and what might happen next. If you’re good (and lucky) they might even reveal why things happened. But they will tell you absolutely nothing about what those who are trying to make business decisions want to happen.

Raise revenue, lower costs and make customers happier, right? Not always and not necessarily in that order.

Understanding which insights will be valuable to which people at what points in time depends on understanding their job, their motivations (bonus plan!) and the politics swirling around inside every organization.

It would be pretty to think that pure logic rules the day and that numbers are the One Representation of the Truth. But those who are counting on your insights to help them reach their goals are not the rational human beings you wish them to be. Neil deGrasse Tyson can tell you how evolution made them bad at math:

Neil deGrasse Tyson

So how do you convince people that the numbers represent the Truth and should be revered?

You don’t.

Instead, you get your head out of your data cube and your creaky bones out of your cubicle and meet them on their own ground.

Go to their meetings.
Meet them for lunch.
Ask them questions.
Listen, listen, listen.

Then, when you have something that you know should interest them and can help them, they will be ready to listen to you.

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