The Hardest Part About What We Do. (It’s Also Why We Do It.)


When it comes to fresh ideas for your business, there’s a lot to be said for cross-pollinating. That is, getting outside the routines of your industry and exploring how other people approach the sort of challenges you face.

I’m all for it.

I’m also all for spending time with people and colleagues who GET you straight away, and what you’re doing, and how very hard it can be.

That’s exactly how it felt on Tuesday evening this past week, when Enolytics was invited to kick off the CDO Executive Summit at the St Regis Hotel in Atlanta. There was not a single other person from the wine industry in that room, but it felt like the Chief Data Officers in the audience GOT us straight away, and what we’re doing, and how very hard it can be.

It felt that way to me, and I’m not even our Chief Data Officer.

Chris, who is our CDO, was there too and here’s what he had to say:

Clearly every industry struggles with the same big issue, which is convincing decision makers to confirm their gut feeling through informed data. Many executives believe they know better and aren’t taking the data people serious. Until… they get a taste of it. Quite often, the data scientist become their best new friend. But it’s often a frustrating journey to get the executives on board.

“Getting the executives on board” is a challenge for sure, but here’s what struck me most about the conversation and the Q&A part of the program that evening:

The hardest part of what the CDOs do is also the hardest part of what we do, and that’s telling the story.

The story, that is, about why data matters, and how it will help our business. Whether our business is insurance or manufacturing or finance or wine, we need to communicate the effect of our work.

In other words, we need to tell the story of why we do what we do.

Sure, there will be a business case for it, that shows solid logic around raising the price of an existing product, for example, or the revenue potential of developing something different from what’s currently in our portfolio.

That’s the cerebral part of things, that lives in our heads.

But what Chris and I heard from the audience even after the session was over, and in follow up conversations since then, was how much heart was in our work. What they saw, and felt, was how much we sincerely want to help the industry of wine be more successful and, ultimately, how much more enjoyable we want the wine experience to be for the consumer.

That is, in the end, why we do what we do.

Convincing clients and bosses of the usefulness of data is the hardest thing we do – “we” being Enolytics and every CDO who heard our story Tuesday night. What resonated this week more than ever was the need to combine the cerebral, rational component that lives in our heads with the motivation that lives in our hearts.

That’s the sweet spot of the story of why we do what we do, and why we keep doing it.

Thank you, as always, for tuning in.

PS Enjoy your holiday weekend next week! We’ll see you back here on July 12.