As the speed of business continues to evolve, the time businesses have to make crucial decisions has been drastically reduced, meaning that data is the foundation of action.

Yet according to a study by IDC, 42% of managers said they had less than 24hrs[!i!] to make an important business decision and, in many cases, they don’t have the access to data to help inform these.

All organisations need to be focused on becoming more efficient and productive. It is fundamental to attain the full picture of the business in order to know its overall direction on a macro scale. Ideally, this is enacted by consolidating information and giving full transparency to staff.

Data-driven organisations share a number of characteristics that make them more efficient and productive.

How to become data-driven in the digital age

1. Focus on people

Data is an important asset in decision-making and a key source for knowledge, but it’s the people that make the business decisions based upon that knowledge. Therefore, companies should equip employees with easy-to-use analytics to get the most information from their data.

2. Agile decisions

At least 64% of managers have seen the time allowed for decision-making shrink in the past 12 months[!ii!]. Data-driven enterprises are faster with their decisions, allowing them to better respond to dynamic business environments and competitive markets.

3. Make use of all data

As more data is created, there are multiple sources including traditional internal enterprise applications, line-of-business solutions, in the cloud and on people’s desktops, but increasingly from open and external sources. Data-driven enterprises provide a framework for users to access and analyse all their data irrespective of source and don’t limit analysis to preconceived notions.

4. Encourage experimentation

Enterprises must have the transparency to allow people to have access to data and let them appraise this freely—even if it opens the possibility to mistakes. If staff may appraise freely without worrying about risk of failure then they’re more likely to make discoveries that can really change the business.

5. Don’t make assumptions

By only seeking a limited data range, one ignores the chances of insight that may significantly help the company. If companies start using data analysis more broadly rather than limiting themselves to specific data sets, then they’ll be in a better position to get a broader view of what’s happening.

6. Extend analysis to all levels

According to a study by Gartner[!iii!], analytic tools don’t reach more than 25% of non-technical users in an organisation. For a company to truly leverage data tools, the platforms must be understandable and accessible for anyone in the team.

7. Make sure data analysis is at the heart of any decision-making

With the proliferation of analytics in business, it has become ever more crucial to ensure staff have the ability to analyse data wherever and whenever they need to make a decision. This means giving staff access to analytics platforms from any device and from any location.

8. Go beyond your company

A firm’s intelligence should make use of data from its external ecosystem of partners, customers, suppliers and so on. The data available for analysis should therefore not be the exclusive domain of people within the organisation.

9. Embrace governance

Governance is often seen as standing in the way of the innovation and agility of a business, but without it, companies would face unnecessary risks. Governance is key to empowering users with the appropriate information with which to improve their decision-making. Governance should be the means to open access to relevant applications and analytics to the business community and therefore further the overall means of the company.

10. Data-driven business models

Data-driven companies understand that data analytics may aid in identifying new growth opportunities, define new business models and show new ways to reduce risks. More than half of companies with big data projects, according to Gartner[!iv!], focus the use of their data in generating new business ideas or design to optimise sales processes. These insights are exactly what any organisation needs in order to define new business models―put data at the heart of all operations.

We have more data available to us than ever before, which makes us more informed as a society. Organisations can drive changes, optimise their business and, ultimately, improve their decision-making from a proven base that’s accumulating all knowledge. The new data-driven business models need to focus on people. The key will be to equip each and every member of staff with the ability to analyse data and get insights that can help drive the business forward.

[!i!] “The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things” – April 2014.

[!ii!] “The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things” – April 2014.

[!iii!] Gartner; Market Trends: Business Intelligence Tipping Points Herald a New Era of Analytics; Dan Sommer; November 2014

[!iv!] Gartner; Answering Big Data's 10 Biggest Vision and Strategy Questions, 12 August 2014; Douglas Laney, Alexander Linden, Frank Buytendijk, Andrew White, Mark A. Beyer, Neil Chandler, Jenny Sussin, Nick Heudecker, Merv Adrian.