Human Data Changes Everything

Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Editor In Chief at The Executive Magazine

Tim Lyons, CMO of QSR International, a leading global qualitative data analysis software provider, writes for The Executive Magazine on utilising data to improve internal communication, retention, & competitive messaging.

Tim Lyons is CMO of QSR International, a leading global qualitative data analysis software provider, with products NVivo and Interpris. Learn more at

As an executive, you don’t need to be told twice about the constant balancing act that leaders handle. With business needs pulling you in every direction, often internal communication and employee care has to slide toward the bottom of your priority list as you focus on how to grow. In an increasingly digital world, with employer review websites and remote job opportunities opening up, care for your employees has become something you cannot push aside in pursuit of other company interests. Additionally, as each market grows more competitive by the day, you need to pay attention to how you are communicating your differentiator. These two distinctions, employee care and competitive advantage, will ultimately make your business stand out. The best way to efficiently focus on and grow these two areas is already at your fingertips, waiting in human data.

It’s no secret that data is playing an increasingly important role in all aspects of business. But often, it is only viewed as the numerical information being collected and stored about your customers, their buying habits, and your market. Data is so much more. It also includes human data, which is not measured with numbers, including things like open-ended survey responses, phone calls, or emails. Below are the ways that you should utilise human data to grow.

Employee Engagement

Gathering information on how you are doing as an employer is no longer difficult or time consuming with the use of surveys, focus groups, interviews, and other interactive forms of data collection. What can be difficult, and often deters leaders from genuinely understanding how their employees feel, is making sense of that data – particularly if the data obtained isn’t just “yes or no” answers, or 1-10 ranking scales. Many executives get stuck between a lack of time to read every answer given by employees and complaints being aired publicly because they were not addressed. Luckily, as data collection has become easier, so has data analysis. Find a software tool for your company that reads text and draws out key themes, ideas, and quotes for you. It is a simple, time-saving way to understand your employees, their experiences working with your company, and how to make yourself a better employer—which will also save you money in the long run.

Competitive Advantage

Internal data usage also allows you to understand competition in a way that ensures you are staying ahead of the game. It can be difficult to look at a competitor objectively in order to make meaningful change. Numbers are not enough. You need to know where your competitors are about to attack. Factor in their messages, advertising, any news that is announced, and you will have a more holistic view of their strategy. Analyse the human data to draw out observations of key themes and ideas that will help you predict what is to come and be prepared to respond. Also look internally at your messages and at customer feedback. You can analyse customer reactions compared to your own language to see how effective you are at communicating what makes your company the best.

Human data is the key to understanding how to be an employer with long-term, satisfied employees, how to differentiate your messaging, and how well you are currently communicating. Do not let it go ignored as you move to grow your business in the new year.

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