Follow your gut. It’s a piece of advice we hear constantly. It also ranks high on the unwritten list of “worst advice of all time.”
It’s tempting to follow instincts and hunches, but it rarely produces optimal results. The simple fact is that gut feelings are often under-informed or occasionally misinformed entirely. Even when one of these instincts works out, it’s the result of luck rather than some magical intuition.
This is obvious to most of us, yet instincts still guide a number of important business decisions. For much of history that was necessary because there was no other option. Decision makers had to guess about the many things they couldn’t predict or analyze. Now that we live in a world of data, however, there is no reason to act without ample information.
Data-driven decision making is the concept of making choices based on empirical insights and objective information. Instead of assuming what will happen, decision makers analyze the data to make informed predictions and test possible outcomes. This approach doesn’t guarantee that every decision is the right one, but it narrows the margins significantly.
So how do you overcome the instinct to follow your gut and utilize data instead? And how do you adopt this approach throughout your whole company? Use the tools and techniques found below.
Implement the Right Tools
There are tons of tools on the market that help companies organize and analyze data. However, many are hard to use and inconvenient to access, limiting their true value. Tools like an embedded analytics dashboard from ThoughtSpot put data-driven insights into existing applications and platforms. Users don’t have interrupt any workflow to add data to their decision making. Plus, these tools are designed to be easy and intuitive so that non-technical users can still take full advantage. A data-driven culture depends on technology… so it only makes sense that the tech should be as accessible as possible.
Creating a Data-Focused Culture
Data literacy refers to a user’s ability to leverage data according to best practices. This is an emerging skill that a lot of smart professionals still lack. Luckily, there are a lot of great tools out there that empower business users to pull insights from company data without the need for extensive training. However, it may also help to have discussions with staff regarding how data creates value along with core concepts, company policies, and proven techniques. This helps create a company culture that is data-focused and data-ready.
Get Buy-In at the Top
Any shift in culture has to come from the top down. It takes time and resources to fundamentally change how a company operates. Therefore, if executives do not understand and support the need for a data-driven culture the effort will likely fail. It’s important for this buy in to come from everyone at the top, not just the CIO or CFO.
Data is not an asset is just one department or one scenario. It’s valuable to just about every employee every day. If data is going to become central to what you do, the C-Suite needs to treat it like an essential initiative.
Tie Dat to Business Value
A data-driven culture won’t survive unless it drives real business value. Users need to explore their data regularly to discover the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date insights available. Business users might similarly benefit from automatically updated analytics dashboards which showcase such information. The goal is to clearly tie data to business value so business users, not just analysts, are compelled to use data in their day to day decision making.
What can you expect once a data-driven decision making takes off at your company? How about less uncertainty, better outcomes, fewer disruptions, and faster growth? Stop trusting your gut and start trusting the data instead.