So you want to be data driven... but do you know what it means?

Date: Friday, April 12, 2024

The press is awash with the importance of digitisation, we hear stories good and bad about the power and perils of data. 

You've probably got lots of it yourself. You might have places to store it, systems to collect it, even people that look after it. But does that make you a data-driven organisation? Or just data-aware…?  

Want to know if you're a data driven business? Ask yourself these questions.  


Are you using your data? 

You might produce management accounts, HR updates, and sales reports but are you really using the rich data you have? Most businesses realise the importance of data but only actually use 20-30% of that data to make decisions. It tends to be used for finance led decision making rather than other growth drivers like customer behaviour, buying trends, and competitor analysis.  

It’s when you get granular that the magic happens. In a manufacturing environment for example it could be using analytics to keep track of which skews are selling and which are under-performing to inform product development and marketing. When you are data-driven you recognise and use data as true asset.


Is your data in the hands of the people that matter? 

As Graham James our Business Intelligence and Data Strategy Consultant puts it data-driven success is, "As simple as getting the right information to the right people at the right time."  

All too often an organisations approach to data is too concentrated in the hands of the leadership. If the way you collect and analyse data is focused on the needs of those collating financial reports, HR policies, and board papers your data isn’t leading your operations it’s responding to it.  

If you expose it to the budget holders and the executives it becomes operational data and helps people in those roles make better decisions. In a hospital for example, a ward sister probably needs as much access to data as a Finance Manager and in manufacturing looking at top line data alongside CRM system and sales will help department leads operate more efficiently.  

As well as being available the data needs to be accessible, useable and easy to share.  


Have you inverted the pyramid? 

To be a truly data-driven organisation you need to turn the traditional top-down drip feed of information on its head. The business users who are making the day-to-day decisions need to be not just included but at the heart of your business intelligence strategy.  

That’s why using our 25 years of experience our blueprint turns everything on its head:  

  • Stage one: Output based information gathering at the user level. 
  • Stage two: Understand the data sources and system integration and design requirements.  
  • Stage three: visualisation – developing analytics, reports and dashboards, that are easily understandable and accessible 24/7. 


Key to this blueprint is getting the right business users around the table at the information gathering stage.  This means that there are advocates there who will make sure every department – production, sales, marketing, finance, admin – has the outputs they need week in week out that will help them to operate better.  Highly useable data that benefits each section but still ties back to KPI’s and the wider business strategy.  


Data has the power to transform a business 

A data-driven organisation has integrated data analysis at the heart of its business processes and uses the insights to transform their operations. 

If you want to hear more about unlocking the power of data to make better decisions, become more efficient and reach your growth potential check out our podcast series with Business Intelligence and Data Strategy Consultant Graham James: 

Graham James

Graham's background is in Enterprise Information Solutions within the Manufacturing, Education, Healthcare and Supply Chain sectors. The depth of his Board level experience in IT adds dynamism to the management team to grow in traditional and new markets.

Read more posts by Graham James