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Evidence-Based Leadership: How To Use Data To Drive Business Decisions

Analytics and big data have become a key factor in corporate strategies. Data collection techniques and tools are transforming not only decision-making, but also business structure. For those who master the process, big data provides insights and forecasts outcomes to maximize production, marketing, supply chains, HR, and virtually every aspect of your company.

Organizations are realigning their processes to conform to data patterns. The quality and speed of big data results is a major competitive advantage. Here’s how to make the most of your data.

Choose Relevant Data

The world of data science has changed considerably over the past several years. It’s estimated that 1.7 MB of data will be collected for every person, every second, by 2020. Social media mentions, ad clicks, and video views are part of the same data warehouse as production numbers or sales histories.

More data from more sources provides you both a broader and more granular view of operations. The challenge today is for companies to both combine and break down this information into cohesive, meaningful datasets.

Ensuring that information is scrubbed of bad or mismatched data, and can be applied across useful dimensions like time or location, is essential to solving problems, or else all this data has little or no value.

Innovative Data Sourcing

In many cases, the right data for making business decisions is already prepared, but your employees and managers may not know how to use it, or to recognize the real-world value in a series of numbers.

HR, for instance, may not see the significance of payroll figures the way that accounting does. It helps to encourage data sharing for more varied perspectives on what the numbers are showing. End users should see analytic reports as not only identifying measures or trends, but also as a resource for furthering ideas or questions to explain why key indicators have changed or failed to change.

Management should also be looking for more innovative data sources. Factors like the weather or product images could reveal important information that provides a more complete and accurate picture.

Get the Necessary Support

With the rapid evolution of technologies, outmoded IT structures will restrict innovative approaches to data sources, storage, and analysis. Information may be siloed by location or department so that it isn’t available to the rest of the enterprise.

Unstructured data such as documents and diagrams may be of little practical use with legacy IT systems. To reach full potential, data initiatives must have the backing of not only CIOs, but other senior executives as well.

Without the proper funding and recognition, analysis is ineffective both from a technical and strategic standpoint. It’s important to provide accurate and useful results from day one so that executive support grows rather than decreases. Making this happen also requires the full support of IT in both data architecture and user training.

Simple Tools for Sophisticated Problems

Big data should be available to stakeholders throughout your company rather than to just a select team. In the past, this required a firm grasp of business intelligence tools and data modeling. Today’s vendors have recognized that this introduces limitations and have responded to user demand with systems that tend to be user-friendly and designed for specific needs.

Modern data solutions can be oriented to various company roles, industries, and data sources, particularly capturing the explosion of online information (Data Never Sleeps 5.0).

As technology presses forward, more information will be captured or made available to businesses of all sizes. At the same time, more companies are turning to big data analysis as part of the decision-making process. The competitive advantage now belongs to companies that can most effectively adapt and manage this growing data stream.

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