When everyone has access data analytics, they have the context to make the best decisions for their team, their department, and the company – in real time.
Facilitating decision making throughout the enterprise starts with commitment from the top
Many organizations today are accumulating data faster than they know what to do with it. But it’s not how much you have; it’s the quality and what you do with it that produces the real value. Businesses that have come to grips with the fact that acquiring data is the easy part are quickly realizing that transforming that data into insights, while challenging and at times risky, is well worth the effort. A data-led approach provides the foundation to a culture that infuses analytics throughout the business and beyond.
Yet, even as self-service data analytics have become standard practice, the impact of data has not been fully realized. According to a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey, 89 percent of participants believe analyzed data is critical to their business innovation strategy. Results also noted data analytics as improving the customer experience and operational efficiency – but not leveraged to fuel innovation and new business opportunities. The takeaway? Too many organizations are not taking full advantage of data and analytics, creating competitive opportunity for those who dare to think differently.
Respondents in the HBR survey cited a lack of employee skills or training and inferior data quality as impediments to analyzed data utility. Training a diverse workforce in a broad range of roles and departments to use specialized BI technology is not easy. Convincing them to work outside their comfort zones can be downright impossible. But, to become ‘data-driven,’ everyone must participate.
Infusing existing workflows, processes, and applications with analytics is a seamless way to solve the participation challenge – increasing automation and resulting in a streamlined user experience with no complicated tools or technical training required. Embedding analytics within the employee’s standard workflow puts the information front and center, empowering timely decisions from within that same application. This ability to ‘stay within one’s comfort zone’ can boost analytics adoption, laying the strategic foundation to a data-driven culture.
In a data-driven culture, where every employee has access to the data they need within their own workflows, data analytics delivers significant benefit. This infusion of analytics offers insights and promotes strategic decision making on the spot. But to do this right, the C-suite must lead. Placing emphasis on data literacy and decision making throughout the organization is the precursor to infusing insights into each employee’s daily workflow.
While it is not necessary to become a data scientist to lead a data-centric organization, a fundamental knowledge of basic data principles is certainly invaluable to executives. These include an understanding of the insights required, recognition that clean data is valuable data, and the capacity to pinpoint data gaps. With this level of data know-how, leaders can reshape how decisions are made throughout the operation – and beyond (i.e., suppliers, partners, and customers). Establishing corporate priorities via consensus enables leadership to define how data will be leveraged and choose technology that drives adoption of the company’s data strategy. With harmony among the leadership team, goals are set, measured, evaluated, and adjusted. Metrics can encompass anything from revenue generation to improving customer experience and identifying demand for new products and services.
Technology, while necessary, can also impose limits to data visibility. Add the rapid amassing of more data, and the issue intensifies. Analytics infusion instead puts data and actionable intelligence in front of those who need it, when and where it’s needed. Sure, democratizing data is a bold move but leaders who understand the inherent value of a data-informed organization know the benefits outweigh the risks.
With an authentic data culture, leaders can introduce more efficient processes that guide innovation and new business opportunities. And while technology certainly plays a role, it’s the combination of culture and people supported by smarter processes – infused with analytics at the point of need – that powers strategic decision making at every level of the company.