Moving from collecting data to running business intelligence

Using business data effectively requires progressing past collecting data to running business intelligence. Then, companies can actively depend on that information for better outcomes, rather than just compiling it for potential later use.

Here are five ways to successfully run your BI efforts:

1. Utilise key performance indicators (KPIs)

A key performance indicator is a measurable value that shows how far you are from achieving an identified goal. Collecting data may illuminate where weak points exist, making it easier to see the path to improvement. Regularly tracking your KPIs through the whole company is essential to running a worthwhile business intelligence model.

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A 2019 report from the Business Application Research Center (BARC) found that only 36% of organisations use KPIs across their companies, even though 79% took the time to define a standard set of KPIs. Keep those findings in mind as you dig into your data to determine how to improve.

For example, maybe three-quarters of people who contacted your company for help reported feeling unsatisfied with the results. You may initially think the fault lies with the customer service call centre. It could also be accurate, however, that a significant percentage of individuals initially got upset because they found the website too hard to navigate and had difficulty finding a contact number. That means the problem is a website development matter as well.

In that scenario, you may establish a KPI to increase the percentage of people who have satisfying interactions when seeking help. It’s easy to see how crucial it is to apply the KPIs across all departments. Examine data from the company as a whole to figure out which factors tie into identified results and what must happen to achieve progress.

2. Ask employees what prevents them from using data, then work to help

You may find that workers would love to depend on BI more often in their roles, but believe doing so is prohibitively cumbersome based on their past attempts. Data from a 2020 MicroStrategy study indicated that 60% of employees reported it taking hours or days to find the information they needed, while only 3% could retrieve it in seconds.

It’s incredibly challenging to adopt a company-wide BI model if large segments of employees don’t know where or how to find the information that helps them do their jobs. Many may be aware the data exists, but feel it’s useless to them due to a lack of access or another easily remedied problem.

Spend time getting feedback from workers about the barriers that stop them from working with data effectively. Then, investigate what the company could do to remove those obstacles. For example, the main issues may be insufficient training or inadequate credentials. Each employee and department may provide differing feedback about their struggles. The goal is to explore solutions that have the highest likelihood of helping the largest segment of the workforce.

3. Determine how to make the data easier to understand

Perhaps a confusing format is the main thing stopping you from fully tapping into business data. If the current information consists of thousands of spreadsheet cells filled with figures, it may seem too overwhelming to start translating that data into meaningful actions. Data visualisation tools could help. They show the data in graphical formats, such as pie charts and bar graphs. Research shows that 77% of companies using data visualisation saw improved decision-making.

Conversely, you may already have the tools, but haven’t yet trained enough employees on how to employ them. In that case, the lack of education may make workers feel that utilising the data is a privilege that doesn’t extend to them.

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Thus, they may pass on the information to the same small group of workers each time, letting those colleagues work with the data and assuming it’s too far out of their depth to grasp. Education could aid in changing their mindset.

4. Take a top-down approach to business intelligence

Have you ever wondered what distinguishes companies that excel in their business data use from those that still have substantial room for improvement? A 2019 Deloitte study sought to find out. It polled nearly 1,050 executives from large companies about how they use data. The results showed that the CEO is the leading data champion at 29% of organisations. Moreover, companies in that segment were 77% more likely to exceed their business goals significantly.

With the CEO leading the way concerning business intelligence, enterprises had a 59% greater chance of getting useful insights from tracked data. Besides encouraging people’s efforts to use information well, the CEO could stimulate momentum in the company at large by emphasising the need for all workers to apply BI skills when possible.

Some related statistics in Deloitte’s survey were that 88% of the companies where all employees knew how to leverage data surpassed their goals. In contrast, 61% of organisations with only a few people trained to use data effectively exceeded such milestones.

Top executives should refer to some of the points discussed earlier for practical advice about how to make employees feel more confident when working with data. Perception is nonetheless crucial, though. When workers see their CEO fully on board with running business data and using the findings for better decision-making every day, they’ll be more likely to show that enthusiasm too.

5. Give customers clarity about data usage

Customer transparency regarding the use of their data should also factor into a BI plan. A 2018 study from KPMG found that three-quarters of people polled would provide businesses with personal information. Companies could then use it to improve products, prices or practices instead of primarily making assumptions.

KPMG’s research also revealed that about half of respondents (47%) felt more anxious than the previous year about parting with their information. Companies can ease their fears by taking steps to safeguard the material, plus offering straightforward answers about how the enterprise uses data and why.

Companies can still move forward with their intentions to run data models without getting as much information from customers. However, when consumers feel open to entrusting some of their valuable statistics to organisations, those entities may find themselves better equipped to generate accurate and relevant results that keep the enterprise competitive.

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Aim for a steady, dedicated push

After reading these five tips, you may feel your company has a long way to go before it can make the most of business intelligence data. If so, that’s okay. You cannot and should not expect to make tremendous progress in the span of a few weeks or months.

Taking full advantage of business intelligence means enabling small, ongoing changes that shape how you investigate compiled data and positively affect your business’s handling of that crucial information.


Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews, is a tech journalist and writer.