Thursday, May 13, 2010

Three Conversations to Have with an Executive - the Only Three

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely in the business of data management. In many companies, particularly large ones, the folks who manage data don’t much talk to the executives. But every so often, there is that luncheon, a chance meeting in the elevator, or even a break from a larger meeting where you and an executive are standing face to face.  (S)he asks, what you’re working on. Like a boy scout, be prepared.  Keep your response to one of these three things:

  1. Revenue – How has your team increased revenue for the corporation?
  2. Efficiency – How has your team lowered costs by improving efficiency for the corporation?
  3. Risk – How have you and your team lowered the risk to the corporation with better compliance to corporate regulations?

The executive doesn’t want to hear about schemas, transformations or even data quality. Some examples of appropriate responses might include:

  • We work on making the CRM/ERP system more efficient by keeping an eye on the information within it. My people ensure that the reports are accurate and complete so you have the tools to make the right decisions.
  • We’re doing things like making sure we’re in compliance with [HIPAA/Solvency II/Basel II/Antispam] so no one runs afoul of the law.
  • We’re speeding up the time it takes to get valuable information to the [marketing/sales/business development] team so they can react quickly to sales opportunities
  • We’re fixing [business problem] to [company benefit].

When you talk to your CEO, it’s your opportunity get him/her in the mindset that your team is beneficial, so when it comes to funding, it will be something they remember. It’s your chance to get out of the weeds and elevate the conversation.  Let the sales guys talk about deals. Let the marketing people talk about the market forces or campaigns. As data champions, we also need to be prepared to talk about the value we bring to the game.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own and don't necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer. The material written here is copyright (c) 2010 by Steve Sarsfield. To request permission to reuse, please e-mail me.