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Onboarding at DataDrive During COVID-19

Onboarding at DataDrive During COVID-19

During the COVID-19 outbreak, I changed careers and joined DataDrive.  My onboarding process was completely virtual - a new experience for sure!  In my prior experience, I rarely worked from home before and don’t even have a traditional desk (notice the ironing board):

Sam sits at his desk, which is an ironing board

During the first week, I learned about DataDrive and how we add value to our clients.  Reflecting on my first week, I wanted to walk through three of the most important things I learned: 

  • A brief history of DataDrive,

  • Our philosophy around user-centered product design, and

  • The value we add to clients in the ‘last mile’ of analytics

Luke smiles at his desk

The History of DataDrive

Onboarding kicked off with learning about the origins of DataDrive. I learned that Luke Komiskey founded DataDrive in 2017. He desired to serve local companies with a unique value proposition: enable data-hungry people to build data-driven organizations.  He embraced the adventure as a team-of-one and worked hard to create approachable and impactful data experiences for his clients.  

Times have changed, and DataDrive has grown into an entire team of highly-skilled analytics and visualization professionals. Through this growth, we continue to focus on serving the needs of our local community and clients with a unique focus on the intersection of technology, design, business strategy, and organizational behavior.

I learned that our transition to remote work during COVID-19 was actually pretty seamless. This was easy because Luke started out building dashboards out of a backpack while traveling the world, often on the other side of the globe from his clients.  When he and his wife moved back to Minnesota, DataDrivers enjoyed spending most of their time onsite, rolling up their sleeves alongside their clients, but were also encouraged to take some time each week to work from home when it made sense. When we transitioned to a fully remote policy in light of the pandemic, our work didn’t skip a beat.

One part of my onboarding that caught my attention was our strategic relationships with several software partners.  I discovered that early on, DataDrive was one of the few one-person consulting firms in America to be both a Tableau and Alteryx Partner.  Our newest partnership with Snowflake seems to make perfect sense, they adhere to a similar spirit of innovation.

Board for planning optimal visualization.

User-Centered Product Design

The team dedicated several of my virtual onboarding sessions to describing how we design solutions for clients.  I’ve seen the disconnect between designers and end-users first hand in my prior experience, so this was eye-opening.  A common challenge designers face is understanding the true needs of the end-user. I learned that failing to do so can lead to partial build requirements and results that fail to achieve the insights the end-user actually needs to get the outcomes they desire.

I was taught how DataDrive follows a unique agile, prototype-oriented approach for product development.  We define the needs of each of the various end-users through our delivery process. I learned that a development method that fails to keep the end-user at the center will not be successful.  These guided design conversations align all parties and make the purpose behind each design component clear to all stakeholders. 

Last mile of analytics

The Last Mile of Analytics

I had heard of the ‘last mile problem’ before, often discussed in telecommunications and logistics, but during my onboarding I learned what that meant in the world of analytics. Part of my onboarding involved reading the book Data Fluency by Zach and Chris Gemignani. In it, they describe this problem as it relates to data and analytics:

“Although data storage can be done en masse, the last mile is personal and often organization-specific. Revealing insights, influencing decisions, and taking action requires skill and motivation at a personal and organizational level. This is the missing link - the last mile - requiring individual and organizational data fluency.”

After reading, I gained insight into the common challenges organizations face when trying to communicate data.  It helped me understand that there is a lot more to consider about my craft than just the technical component of creating a dashboard.


Reflecting on my First Week

What I have come to discover after my first week is that DataDrive seems to look at things differently. Our user-centric approach exceeds the standards I’ve seen anywhere else to date.  We are hyper-focused on going the extra mile by understanding who our clients are, the context behind their business challenges, and not just settling for taking an existing spreadsheet and recreating it one-for-one in another tool.  We expose actionable insights, help users tell impactful stories with data, and educate end-users on how to make better data-driven decisions.

Overall, I have learned so much about how we add value to organizations through data.  Even in uncertain times, we seem positioned to thrive and go above and beyond for our clients.  I’m excited for the opportunity to put everything I’ve learned to work for my clients going forward.

Reference List

Gemignani, Z., & Gemignani, C. (2014). Data Fluency: Empowering Your Organization with Effective Data Communication. Indianapolis, IN: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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