In today’s digital age, it has quickly become apparent that data lies at the centre of both innovation and transformation. Data has become the foundation of a new economy, dubbed the analytics economy, making analytics an essential tool for turning this data into the actionable insights that transform businesses.

Often overlooked, the key to data-centred transformation, and driving value across the enterprise, is in the data literacy levels of employees. Data literacy, known as the ability to read, work with, analyse, and argue with data, is critical in today’s analytics economy.

Gartner predicts that by 2020, 80 per cent of organisations will have initiated programs focused on creating a culture of data literacy. Do business leaders have what it takes to optimise business intelligence and harness the collective insight of the organisation today?

First, to drive the most value from analytics, individuals need to be able to work with all of their organisation’s data. It’s about taking fragmented data, people, and ideas out of their silos and connecting them in agile, innovative, and governed ways.

This means being able to access data wherever it resides, without being limited by its location, size or complexity. Business leaders must find a way to bridge user data, governed enterprise sources, and big data, in an associative manner, to empower teams across the business. Data acquisition and integration are critical to this, as are the tools needed to increase simplicity and agility.

Business leaders must find a way to bridge user data, governed enterprise sources, and big data, in an associative manner, to empower teams across the business.

Next, organisations need to consider how and where that data is utilised and whether their current infrastructure fully supports their unique needs. Governance, security, and data quality are key considerations in our increasingly complex business environments. To thrive in the analytics economy, organisations need to address the realities of working in a hyper-connected world, across teams, time zones, and technologies.

Business leaders must get to grips with the platforms that allow all areas of their business – from data connectivity and preparation, to analysis and visualisation, to collaboration and ease of user access to data – to run seamlessly.

Leveraging a truly open platform with an ecosystem that harnesses the latest technologies and tools will bring together data, people, and ideas. This, in turn, will lead to more data-literate users and greater innovation, as data is successfully integrated into the daily lives of users.

Finally, to optimise business intelligence and fully embrace the analytics economy, businesses must empower the users: their employees. Teams need to be met where they are with the right tools and capabilities for whatever they are trying to do.

This could include a range of current and future use cases; visualising data and creating analysis, exploring centrally deployed apps, consuming printed output, analysing on mobile devices (online or offline), building custom applications and embedded analytics that drive new business opportunities or operational efficiencies, and more.

Individuals must be empowered with the tools and knowledge to succeed. What’s more, business leaders must focus on delivering enhancements to the user experience, such as using machine intelligence, to help drive insights and improve data literacy.