What it means to be a data-driven organization

What it means to be a data-driven organization
November 6, 2014

The term “data-driven” has started to pop up everywhere lately, but it often lacks context. Is it just a buzzword, or does it have a relevant meaning? For companies who take data seriously and apply the results to their operations, data-driven does mean something—success.

According to a recent article in CGMA Magazine, “Companies that rely heavily on data are more likely to report significant improvement in making important business decisions.” Executives are no longer relying on gut instinct alone. Rather, they’re using data to make strategic decisions and unlock existing insights.

Being data-driven is about more than simply capturing numbers. It’s about getting the right information at the right time, and using that insight to help guide your business. Data can be used to tell stories—both internally to your teams and externally to your customers and partners. Using real numbers, trends, and patterns, you can talk about what’s working and what’s not, and show how your organization is affecting change.

So what do data-driven organizations look like? Here are four characteristics they share:

  • They make data a priority for everyone
    Gathering data isn’t just the work of one group or individual. It should be everyone’s job. Bringing the whole organization on board, around how each can do his or her part to add vital information, will ensure that you’re seeing the whole picture, not just one person’s interpretation of information.

  • They choose tools that give them real-time access to their data
    With so many business services moving to the cloud, it’s important to choose providers that give you access to your data and allow you to benefit from it. Data that isn’t available on demand or that you can only see yearly or quarterly, isn’t going to have as big of an impact on everyday operations.

  • They incorporate data into their processes
    To make the most out of your data, it should be a normal part of your process. Gathering, analyzing, and distributing data on a regular basis will help to ensure that you’re able to form an accurate picture over time. When you have a regular process of capturing and analyzing data, you can begin to identify impacts and make time for analysis.

  • They use data to guide decision-making
    Data helps take the guesswork out of making decisions. By pairing data with your organization’s goals, you can more easily determine what to do next—and what you should steer away from. Best of all, you have numbers and facts to back up your choices, making it easy to get people on board with changes or improvements.
Harness the power of data
Having complete, accurate data at your fingertips means you never have to leave important decisions to chance. A solution that is built around the way you work—supporting unstructured and structured data simultaneously—will allow you to create reports and capture insights suited the needs of your business.

Becoming a data-driven organization isn’t something you have to do alone. With the right cloud-based solution, you can get the help you need to guide your business into the future.

Mike Sellberg

About the author

Mike Sellberg is Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Workiva. He is the former EVP and CTO at iMed Studios and the former Divisional General Manager at Engineering Animation, Inc.