[quote]It doesn’t matter if you develop a pretty infographic for the CEO. You need a story that he/she can tell when you leave the room. [/quote] By Darrell Jursa At the beginning of the 1996 movie, Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise plays a sports agent who writes a “mission statement” called “The Things We Think and Do Not Say.”  It’s a call to arms about a frustration with his business that results in his firing. Cruise’s character opens up his own agency with his only client, Cuba Gooding Jr., repeatedly yelling in his face, “Show me the money!” This article is a call to arms about a frustration I have with using big data to solve all of our problems in the communications business. I’m not Tom Cruise, and I like my gig so I might not be as dramatic, sorry. Just spend a few minutes with me here as I hopefully get you to “complete me”. Just say no to big data. Say yes to small data. We all need to make big data small. Stick to Communications Data Social and traditional media monitoring is what we know best. When someone asks you to start integrating sales, weather, etc. data, bring in people [caption id="attachment_2153" align="alignright" width="150"]Darrell Jursa Darrell Jursa[/caption] who know how to structure that information so it can be integrated. Often, more time is spent trying to decipher the data output versus integrating the findings. Leave a space at the table for the specialists to help and get to the findings before you raise your hand and say, “sure, we can do that!” Stop Abusing Dashboards The word “dashboard’ has its origins in wagons, horses and mud. When a horse would “dash,” a board would block the mud from hitting the riders in the wagon. With data, a dashboard should block the mud and deliver information that people can understand immediately. It doesn’t matter if you develop a pretty infographic for the CEO. You need a story that he/she can tell when you leave the room. A good dashboard helps you see through the mud. Make Data Actionable Immediately I used to deliver information from store scan data to 200-300 salespeople at 5:30AM before they hit their routes. As my Harvard Graphics presentation pierced the haze of a sales rally, I threw out t-shirts as a reward for each right answer, four in all, when they were asked to repeat back to me key insights from my charts and graphs. I kept it to four, and told them through data what they could do that day to sell more.  T-shirts might not be your deal, but you need to make it worth something to your audience. All Data Should Pass the “Hit the Bus Test” In our business, clients and agency personnel come and go. They hopefully won’t get hit by a bus, earning a “go” designation, but when they leave their positions, you shouldn’t have to start over with any kind of data. Tools exist that allow you to pick up where they left off, regardless of what side of the desk they sat on. We can’t solve “survival analysis” that many executives like to do, but we can create the systems and processes that allow others to extract the value from those who came before. Most of us remember the world before big data started claiming to solve everyone’s problems. By now, we’ve all experienced moments when big data has essentially caused the problems. Big data’s a problem, but we can choose to make it small by taking a few simple steps so we can all become better communicators. And that’s when we can all say, “Show me the money!” Darrell Jursa (@jursarealwom) is SVP/Partner at FleishmanHillard, based in Chicago.