When you head up big data initiatives, keeping the board informed is one of your most important tasks.
You should present big data and analytics in the context of what they bring to the company, especially in very visible areas like revenue gains, operational efficiencies, cost savings, and returns on technology investments. It is also important to lay the groundwork (especially if board members aren't tech savvy) so your board understands enough about how analytics work to see how they fit into the big picture and benefit the business.
If you're going to brief the board on big data and analytics, read these five important tips.
1: Keep the tech specifics and jargon to a minimum
There are so many buzzwords in IT, that if you're around it every day, you can easily lapse into the lingo and forget that your non-technical audience isn't familiar with it—work hard to avoid this. It's critical to use plain English to explain complicated technical concepts like data cleaning and aggregation, developing data algorithms, and processing data on Hadoop until it comes out in reports. In short, don't get technical unless they ask for it.
One thing you can do is a dry-run of your presentation to a non-technical audience before you present to the board. The individuals in your "test group" can give you helpful suggestions on any area of your presentation that they find confusing, so you can make adjustments.
SEE: Launch a big data strategy awareness campaign (TechRepublic)
2: Illustrate what you talk about
If you have visually engaging media that the board can see during your talk, or if you have a specific business case where analytics was used that you can present to illustrate its value, your message will be more compelling, and it will enhance your ability to connect with your board.
SEE: Mobile analytics: 10 great apps to visualize big data on the go (TechRepublic)
3: Show results
If your board has already given you a vote of confidence and funding, show board members the results from your big data and analytics project. Explain how analytics improved revenue capture or operational performance—better yet, show how the analytics contributed to the bottom line.
4: Set a plan for status updates
If you are presenting to your board on big data and analytics for the first time, part of the objective should be to set a foundation for future updates. Ideally, the goal should be to brief the board on your progress with analytics on a quarterly basis; this keeps the topic fresh in board members' minds.
5: Answer questions
Always leave time for questions at the end of your presentations. If you can't answer a question on the spot, table it and tell the board that you will be getting back to them on it shortly.
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Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.