How Analytics Can Provide Decision Support at Any Level of the Organization

A consensus is growing among business leaders that data science can no longer be reserved for data scientists alone. Advanced analytics, long regarded as esoteric and highly technical, is increasingly becoming part of everyday business decision-making at all levels of the organization.

Leading companies prioritize data literacy so that many or all their employees can use analytics tools, understand insights from analytics, or, at a minimum, speak the language of analytics when communicating with analytics users. Companies driven by analytics are proven to perform better, where “by empowering employees with these fundamental skills, companies are realizing tremendous levels of innovation and efficiency,” Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports.

But to facilitate these benefits, leaders need to create a culture within their organizations that values analytics as a key component of all their decision-making processes. How can they ensure employees realize and take action based on insights from analytics? There are two key steps:

  1. Strive to create a “single version of the truth” for all analytics users.
  2. Democratize access to empower decision-makers at all levels to leverage insights from analytics.

Traditional companies, especially those where instincts-based decision-making at senior levels of the organization are common, are struggling to embrace this concept, let alone adopt it as an initiative. A 2019 Deloitte Survey found that 63% of U.S. executives do not believe their companies are analytics-driven, and 67% say they are not comfortable accessing or using data from their tools and resources themselves.

At the heart of this struggle is their tendency to assign data-science responsibilities to only a small number of highly trained employees — and no one else. As business environments become less predictable and competitors unlock the true power of analytics in their organizations, this model becomes unsustainable.

It’s time business leaders broaden their perspectives on business analytics. Here’s a closer look at how analytics access at all levels of the organization is transforming business for the better.

Who Needs Analytics?

“Companies that want to compete in the age of data need to do three things: share data tools, spread data skills, and spread data responsibility,” HBR reports. Indeed, with the right data culture, companies can provide a wide variety of business and technical users with purpose-built, roles-based access to analytics. Doing so means companies can improve decision-making for all their users, which may include:

  • technical analytics users (e.g. analysts, data scientists, financial data managers)
  • nontechnical business users (e.g. sales leaders, marketing directors)
  • nontraditional business users (e.g. assistants or associates)
  • senior company leaders (e.g. traditionally analytics-averse C-Suite executives)

When done successfully, each of these users can engage in insights-based communication and collaboration using the same terms, even if their individual experiences with analytics are different.

  • Technical analytics users, weary from carrying the burden of an entire organizations’ analytics-related responsibilities, can now easily communicate with colleagues who understand them for the first time. They no longer need to respond to tedious data requests that are now made simple for non-data scientists.
     
  • Nontechnical business users no longer need to wait for data scientists to fulfill their data requests, where “most inquiries from other departments—engineering, finance, product marketing—are relatively simple requests anyone with basic training could fulfill,” says HBR. They also retain greater control of their ideas and the problems they are looking to solve in this way.
     
  • Even such nontraditional business users as assistants and associates benefit from some level of analytics access that may support their decision-making. Customer service associates may benefit from knowledge management tools that help to solve customer complaints, for example, and assistants may pull analytics data for supervisors on short notice.
     
  • Nontechnical, senior company leaders tasked with enormous responsibility will be pleased to find analytics can make their jobs a little easier and support them in critical decision-making. Aligning one’s company with analytics simultaneously ensures VPs, department heads, directors, and team leaders better understand changes to company strategy or policy, if those changes are based on insights from analytics.

Time to Start Aligning Roles with Advanced Analytics

In time, analytics will become a seamless part of employees’ workflows. Business Intelligence (BI) technologies like analytics “will enable business users to turn insights into actions without having to leave whatever business or productivity application they have open,” Forrester reports.

The essential first step to realizing this level of agility is ensuring employees can access analytics-based insights relevant to their individual roles. That means bringing decision-makers at all levels of the organization “closer” to analytics.

When you commit all employees to a single version of the truth and empower decision-making at all levels of your organization, you create an undeniable foundation for long-term business success.