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Why Your CEO Thinks You Can Answer Tough Questions

Posted on 1.29.2015

Your CEO thinks you have access to more data than you do, and, well, it’s all your fault. 

A new survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and Teradata reveals a significant gap between how CEOs and lower-level managers (e.g. vice presidents, directors) view big data. 

In an interview with Website Magazine, Teradata Chief Analytics Officer Bill Franks said it was unsurprising to him that CEOs have a rosier picture of the data that employees have access to and the relevant insights they can extract from said data. In fact, 47 percent of CEOs believe that all employees have access to the data they need, while only 27 percent of other respondents agree. 

One of the reasons behind the disconnect is how lower-level employees are managing up. 

“When people manage up, they try to keep things positive,” said Franks. “They don’t want to tell their superiors any bad news.”

Even when small hurdles are faced, managers typically minimize them, according to Franks, so the CEO comes away from a conversation or email with a positive perception. If there’s a pattern of this kind of filtering, it could backfire, because CEOs will call on employees to answer questions they may not be able to answer (because of lack of access to data) or the CEO may think finding insights from certain data is easier than it really is. Of course, "I don't know," is never acceptable. 

When employees have access to the data they need, they are not only able to answer questions quickly and satisfactorily, but it also has human resource benefits. The survey reported that 35 percent of non-CEO respondents said data availability has improved employee engagement, satisfaction and retention, while 51 percent of CEOs agreed. 

The business benefits of using data in decisions, according to Teradata’s 2015 Global Data-Driven Marketing Survey, is having a more accurate decision (67 percent) and making a faster decision (59 percent). Of course, time is money. 

Brands with e-commerce functions, should check out, "Big Data Solutions for the Everyday Retailer."

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