Reach the Data-Driven Summit: 6 Things to Know

Becoming a data-driven organization requires finding the right combination of people, processes, and technology to enable a data-driven culture.

We are living in a digital economy and it’s created an explosion of data. Yet, thriving in the digital economy is not just about dealing with more data, it's about the speed at which organizations can use the data to transform business.

We've certainly seen how analytics can make or break the performance of a company. In fact, a study from Bain & Company found that top performing companies were far more likely to make decisions up to five times faster than their peers with the help of analytics.

While the journey to becoming a data-driven organization is well worth the rewards, it is fraught with challenges that businesses must be prepared to overcome. Becoming a data-driven organization isn’t just a matter of flipping the switch; rather it’s a steady trek to the top that requires finding the right combination of people, processes, and technology to enable a data-driven culture. 

Have a shared vision to lead the way: The organization as a whole must have a shared vision of the summit they want to reach so they can work together effectively. Organizations must ask, “How are we going to use this data to transform the way we operate as a business?” This makes it easier to identify the right people and departments that need to be involved, as well as gaining executive support to champion the cause. Whether it’s an analyst, IT executive or businessperson, ensuring that everyone has a role in the journey will help make the trek a whole lot smoother and ensure collaboration across the various functional units.

Adopt a holistic approach to analytics: Typically, data analysts’ work is focused and addresses specific micro issues that are relevant to a single stakeholder's tactical needs. While this creates pockets of success, it doesn't always result in driving the entire organization forward. In order to make more strategic decisions, business users are often left sifting through disparate insights to piece them together. To remove the siloes and shift from tactical to strategic analytics, businesses must approach analytics holistically from the beginning and strive to paint a full picture rather than attacking one problem at a time. Doing so requires an environment that links data and analysis together across the entire organization.

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Create a connected environment: With the explosion of data, organizations need to ensure that they have a central data repository that allows them to ingest and crunch any kind of data. More data often means more valuable analytics. Furthermore, the environment must provide capabilities centered on collaboration, integration, automation and data enrichment. This includes the ability to automate data extracts, blending, joining, profiling and transforming data. By leveraging tools that enable self-service, organizations can reduce reliance on IT and business analysts and free up time for more strategic projects.

Operationalize Insights: Finally, a successful data strategy relies on delivering actionable information from your insights to the front line business teams – everyday. This turns insights into real value for your organization. Insights are great to have, but unless they're being used by your organization to create value, then those insights aren't very useful.

Be adaptable: Adding the right tools and technologies will make it easy to scale and adapt to changing demands from an intelligence perspective. Be prepared to see your big data journey evolve over time. Start out with certain use cases to better help you understand how the business is operating. Then, use data analytics to shape your competitive strategies. Be flexible with the outcomes and use it to your advantage. With the right approach, you’ll eventually be able to get to market faster, improve how you interact with customers and gain greater market share.

Prepare for change: The insights derived from big data analytics will likely alter your view of customers, how you operate, what risks you take and what products or services you deliver. Look beyond the insights themselves, recognize the organizational and execution changes that will come from being data-driven and prepare to take the actions the data indicates.

The first step of any successful journey starts with the planning. If you ensure that your organization has these six things in mind from the beginning, then you are much closer to reaching the data-driven organization summit and taking your organization to new heights. 

John Morrell is senior director of product marketing for Datameer.