Many small-business leaders have heard of the benefits of becoming more data-driven, from improving product development to more targeted marketing campaigns and better customer service. But achieving this goal takes a great deal of time and resources, and as such often (understandably) feels out of reach for smaller companies.
From an underskilled workforce to unreliable data and the drawbacks of a legacy data stack, there are plenty of challenges on the road to bringing business intelligence into every team’s operations.
The good news is that the data operations field is evolving at warp speed, and this is bringing new developments to the tools, processes, and practices that make data-driven success possible. Cultural shifts and innovative technology are carving a path to greater accessibility of company data, making business intelligence a tool every department can (and should) lean on in their day-to-day.
Keep reading for practical solutions to become a more data-driven company in the modern landscape.
Business intelligence isn’t a new concept—companies have been tracking metrics and analyzing data for decades. In the past, these practices were primarily reserved for larger corporations that had the time and budget to hire a large team of data experts to build and maintain a robust data architecture. But innovations to the Modern Data Stack mean harnessing company data is now possible for organizations of every size.
Not only is data more accessible, there are also more sophisticated and innovative ways of using that data. Beyond tracking metrics and developing reports, data can be integrated into the flow of work at your organization. You might have heard about the shift from "data-led" to "data-driven" and this is at the crux of it—instead of just using your data insights to guide your strategic direction and decision-making, the data is actually embedded into your operations and processes.
All of this is why organizations of every size are striving to become data-driven, fast. Companies that manage to actualize a truly data-driven culture will reap a number of benefits.
What’s the key to success in all of this? Building a data-driven company culture.
Leveraging your business intelligence across teams and departments means getting every employee up to speed on the importance of company data, and how to use it. Here are some tips to build a data culture at your organization.
Company-wide goals should be quantifiable—this is an important step towards data maturity. When you set high-level company goals, be sure to specify clear KPIs (key performance indicators) for how you’ll measure success. Then, every team or department can set their own goals that contribute to the broader objectives, and establish the KPIs they’ll track for those goals as well.
Already doing this? A good next step is to make data maturity a strategic objective of its own. This means setting goals towards becoming more data-driven as an organization, and making it a company-wide effort.
Have a single, reliable dashboard to track company-wide business metrics by the end of Q2.
Set clear KPIs for every team and ensure proper tracking is set up before the next fiscal year, review cycle, or funding round.
Hold workshops at the team level to understand each team’s data needs within the month.
Speaking of measuring success, do you have clear definitions of your core business metrics?
Defining what you mean when you discuss MRR (monthly recurring revenue), CAC (customer acquisition cost), or PQL (product qualified leads) is essential to maintaining alignment across your teams and departments—especially as your business scales. If your marketing and sales departments aren’t agreeing on these KPIs, how will they collaborate to build effective campaigns?
So start by establishing commercial and technical definitions for your core metrics. Make sure these definitions are accessible to everyone at your organization, and create a single source of truth for tracking.
Modern, end-to-end data platforms are the next generation of tooling for data teams—and many are designed for commercial teams as well. This software can extract, transform, and activate company data in one single place, making data more reliable, accessible, and centralized, so everyone is on the same page.
Finally, it’s essential to build up the data skills of every employee at your company. Developing data literacy across teams helps everyone not only understand your business data, but also use it.
You can’t expect non-technical employees to bring business intelligence into their day-to-day without the proper tools and training to do so.
According to Gartner, by 2023, data literacy will become a necessary driver of business value and included in over 80% of data and analytics strategies. But according to Gartner’s Chief Data Officer Agenda Survey for 2022, respondents said the second-largest internal roadblock for chief data and analytics officers is poor data literacy.
Host data training sessions for employees from all departments to build some basics on interpreting data. If you have an in-house data analyst or a data team, this could be a great leadership opportunity for them. If not, you can use external experts to run the training or find virtual courses. Be sure to dedicate employee’s working hours to this professional development, and don’t expect them to complete it on top of their regular workloads.
Make data a part of team and company performance discussions. If you have quarterly strategic updates, show the results from the previous quarter that informed how you’ll be moving forward. Encourage teams to have monthly review sessions where they look at how their projects performed and find opportunities to optimize, or take away learnings for the future.
With modern innovations to data tooling and cultural shifts toward data-driven success, more and more companies are reaping the benefits of better BI practices. Gone are the days when company data was reserved for one or two expertly trained data specialists, and accessible only to the top leadership of an organization.
The future of work calls for data insights for every size of business, accessible to every expertise therein. Will your organization answer?
Want to learn more about understanding business intelligence and the benefits you’ll see among your employees and organization? Check out the following GetApp articles:
Nora St-Aubin - Guest Contributor
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