How Big Data Can Help the Little Guy Become the Big Wig

This is a guest post by Jeremy Sutter.

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Sometimes, technically minded people feel they are not good candidates for leadership positions. Sometimes, they feel like leadership requires more people skills than they have. However, in the era of big companies and big data, that may be changing. It may be the person with the best information and the best insights into that information who makes the best leader. This can put a technical person at a distinct advantage.

There is already tons of data available online that can help a person get better at doing their job, be a better leader and even argue for a pay raise. Some popular tools for putting together an argument that you do not simply need a pay raise, but actually deserve one include Glassdoor.com and Salary.com for determining salary ranges for your industry and BestPlaces.net for determining relative cost of living for your city. You can start by researching how much someone in your job typically gets paid and then adjusting for local cost of living to get a good baseline idea of how much you should be making.

Data Visualization

If the company you work for keeps big data on hand, you can go a lot further than citing general statistics of that sort. Especially if you are one of the people at the company who knows how to use Tableau on Hadoop you can begin searching in-house data to make your case for exactly how much value you bring to the table.

You can do things like create visualizations for how much more work you do relative to other employees with the same job title, quantify how much money you have saved the company, or how much more value long time employees bring to the table compared to new hires. Putting together solid facts and figures from in-house data is one of the most powerful arguments you can make for why you deserve that pay raise and why the company would only be hurting themselves if they gave you no reason to want to stay.

The Value of Experience

Long time employees with locally relevant experience typically bring more value to the table. This can be hard to quantify, but it is worth trying to capture a general picture of this idea and convey it to the powers that be if you are advocating for a pay raise or promotion. The reason it can be hard to quantify is because experienced employees think differently about a problem and often avoid costly mistakes.

It can be hard to convincingly paint a portrait of value added based on disasters that simply never happened. You may need to work hard to not only come up with data on how much more often other employees make costly mistakes, but also to frame things positively so that demonstrating your worth does not sound like you are bad mouthing others. Big data can help strip out some of the details and give aggregate figures, thus depersonalizing it. That can go a long way towards making the point not only effectively but also diplomatically.

The Value of Low Employee Turnover

Additionally, companies that pay top dollar typically have lower turnover. The lack of churn saves quantifiable and significant amounts of money. You can put a dollar amount on the hiring process and potentially show that as a cost savings in order to argue generally for paying employees better. It is a form of enlightened self interest to take good care of your employees. They take care of your business. You want them loyal and on your side.

Some of the most successful companies understand this and speak of the results it gets them as a “virtuous circle” as opposed to the vicious cycle that undermines the success of so many companies. Big data can help you put figures to that argument. If available, in-house figures can make the most compelling case. The use of in-house data takes this from general theory that sounds good to a strong statement that this actually applies to our company and we should take action here and now.

Big data is a form of power. The employee who wields it well can improve both the company’s bottom line and their own.

Jeremy is a tech and business writer from Simi Valley, CA. He’s worked for Adobe, Google, and himself. He lives for success stories and hopes to be one someday.

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