3 Steps to Empowering Your Employees to Make Better, Data-Driven Decisions


Business intelligence (BI) data analysis is becoming part of standard business operations for a growing number of companies, and it’s not just being used by business leaders and managers anymore. In 2016, 48 percent of companies invested in big data, a Gartner survey says. The average BI app is now used by 17 percent of users in a company, and the most popular tools, such as Logi Analytics and MS Excel, are used by as many as four out of 10 workers in an organization, according to the Business Application Research Center’s BI Survey. However, over one in 10 companies using BI tools experience problems with lack of interest by business users, for reasons ranging from culture shock to measurement problems to inability to translate data into practical performance improvements, the BI Survey reports.

Getting practical results from your business analytics requires implementing a strategy for how your data will be shared and used throughout your company. Here are three steps you can take to collect, package and share your data so that users throughout your company can apply it to real-time practical decision-making.

Decide Which Metrics Matter Most

Tracking key performance indicators is the foundation for effective business data analytics deployment. However, trying to analyze all the data your company generates can result in your workers being overwhelmed by an ocean of information. One of the most common mistakes companies make when first deploying BI is trying to track too many numbers.

To make your data manageable, focus on tracking the metrics that matter most to your business goals. Start out by defining your business goals. Use your articulation of your goals to identify which numbers you need to achieve in order to reach your objectives. Define your KPIs in terms of the metrics that represent the steps towards achieving these numbers.

For example, let’s say your marketing team has a goal of increasing the number of opt-in conversions generated by your website by 100 subscribers a month. Based on your historic data, you’ve determined that this means you need to generate 3,000 more shares on Facebook per month. This in turn means you need to post 30 more pieces of content per month. These numerical goals define some relevant KPIs your marketing team needs to track.

Display Your Data in Relevant Reports

To make your data accessible to workers who need to use it, you should display relevant information in reports that let users see at a glance which numbers they need to know. A good report should allow the user to consume the data they need within a few seconds.

This means you should only display your most critical numbers to the end user. Rank the numbers you display in order of importance so that users can spot the most important items fast. Use formatting such as bolding and colors to make your priority metrics stand out. However, don’t use colors that make your numbers difficult to read.

Creating a good customized report is easier when you choose the right software. For instance, a virtual office analytics suite lets you create customized reports based on all the data available in your unified communications system, including your phone, visual voicemail, instant messaging and video calling.

Embed Relevant Data Into Your Workflow

Reports make data accessible, but putting data into action requires further measures. To encourage your workers to engage with your data and apply it to decision-making, you should find ways to embed relevant data into their daily operational workflow. Make checking relevant data part of your workers’ standard operating procedure so that the reports your analytics generates get put into action.

When embedding data in applications your workers use, there are a few common pitfalls to avoid and best practices to follow. Have your IT team study your workers’ workflow so that they have an appreciation of how embedded data can fit into a good user experience rather than creating a distracting or disruptive UX effect. Make sure you match your display design to user roles, taking into account factors such as whether a worker in one department needs a different customization option than a worker from another department. Make sure you embed security into your data displays as well, using role-based access to prevent unauthorized users from seeing sensitive data, for example.