In the past, many companies regarded data as a byproduct of doing business — albeit a useful one. But it’s increasingly becoming more than an asset; data is driving the very way in which innovative companies operate, grow and define themselves. Forward-thinking enterprises today are striving to connect their employees directly with the data they need to fuel informed, analytical decision-making at every level.
However, understanding the benefits of becoming data-driven and actually making it happen are two very different propositions. It’s only natural to encounter a series of challenges as your organization tries to modernize and improve its approach to data analytics and business intelligence (BI).
Here are four business intelligence challenges companies want to overcome in their efforts to harness the power of data.
1. Lack of Data Strategy
Business intelligence outcomes are only going to be as strong as the strategy shaping them.
Here’s what one enterprise expert believes an effective data strategy should do:
- Set out how you want to use data in practice
- Clarify your top data priorities
- Chart a course for reaching your business goals
- Drill down into your core business needs
- Create an achievable plan for the future
Deploying tools and offering data literacy are important steps and are more powerful as part of an overall data strategy tying data initiatives to larger performance objectives.
2. Lack of Executive Buy-In
The degree to which leaders buy in can greatly affect BI outcomes. How? Leaders shape culture and set an example for the employees looking up to them. Consider the difference between a leader skeptical of data analytics who continues to make decisions by “going with the gut” and drawing on anecdotal experience, versus one who fully embraces BI as a part of routine decision makers — and encourages others to get into the habit of exploring data insights and backing up assertions with analysis.
3. Limitations of Legacy Tech
Some organizations try to make do with what they already have. The thought process here is usually they’ll save money by foregoing investments in a new platform. But there’s a trade-off: Legacy tech has certain limitations that make it difficult, if not altogether impossible, to get the most value out of data.
One major struggle associated with legacy BI is inaccessible and siloed data, which requires teams of data specialists to act as intermediaries between data sources and everyone else. As you can imagine, this non-democratized approach tends to lengthen the time to insight as employees wait for the reports they requested to come back.
Another potential limitation of legacy tech is its tendency to produce static reports. One of the key benefits of updating analytics software is the ability to go beyond traditional BI reporting — to connect users directly with interactive data visualizations anytime they have an ad hoc question. The difference here is users can keep exploring and drilling down into data, as well as asking as follow-up questions as needed.
The latest wave of BI tech democratizes data for everyday users and gives them access to interactive charts. Legacy tech consistently falls short in these two areas.
4. Low Employee Adoption Rates
As research firm Gartner notes, “Pervasive business intelligence remains elusive.” How elusive? Many organizations experience BI and analytics adoption rates around 30 percent of all employees. This just goes to show enterprises need to keep doing everything they can to boost adoption rates if they want their data endeavors to succeed on a large scale.
Here are three ideas from the experts at Gartner for raising user adoption rates:
- Deploy modern BI platforms
- Leverage mobile analytics
- Facilitate embedding capabilities
Clearly, adoption rates are affected by how easy and convenient BI tools are to use. Getting the most favorable business outcomes from analytics depends on first removing hurdles standing between users and insights. Offering data literacy training is a step in the right direction, as is infusing existing portals and applications with analytics.
Companies able to overcome these BI challenges will find themselves better positioned to reap the rewards of better business outcomes.