Ask any business leader worth their salt if their business is data-driven and they’ll say “Of course we are.”  Any other response would soon see them out of a job. But how data-driven are they really?

Despite best intentions, this is often more of an aspiration than a reality, and they’re not as data-driven as they think. That’s because the platforms they currently use don’t give them all of the capabilities they need to build a killer data-driven strategy.

As the amount of data increases exponentially, and the distinctions between competitors in every industry get smaller, it’s critical that you can use your data to get a competitive edge. That’s why you need to deploy the most flexible, agile, and innovative BI and analytics technology now available; technology that goes beyond BI to DI: data intelligence. Then, you’ll be able to pivot your business rapidly, in ways that will truly differentiate you from the rest. I’ll explain how.

What is the key to effectively using data to drive your business?

In reality, it’s so damn hard to use data effectively. There are two big reasons why.

First, legacy platforms just don’t have what it takes to get the most value from your data. Either their capabilities are insufficient, or their use is limited to data teams because they’re too complex for business users to build data-driven strategies.

So, your BI and analytics platform needs to be as nimble and user-friendly as possible for everyone to mashup data, analyze it, and get insights from it. Not just data teams. More on this later.

Second, the insights they provide just aren’t different enough. Most companies have similar KPIs: increased sales, expansion into growth markets and territories, improved operational efficiency, and so forth. The thing is, everybody’s looking for the same stuff.

What’s going to make you stand out are insights from your data that come from outside these norms. Truly exceptional companies are those that modify and pivot their KPIs based on a combination of macroeconomics, what’s happening in their industry, and identifying new KPIs that set them apart from the competition. Then you can do things differently and even counter-intuitively. It can make all the difference.

You can pinpoint new KPIs by asking different questions, if your platform can handle different approaches and ways of thinking and can provide you with the answers. The more off-the-wall questions you can answer, and the quicker you can get insights, the better.

The problem is, it’s often hard to do this with traditional platforms, and even if you can, it’s a slow process. By the time you get the insights you’re looking for, they’re no longer fresh, and you risk someone else beating you to the punch. Here’s how to avoid this, and take your data-driven business to the next level:

1. Give power to the builders

Don’t limit data analytics to your data teams. Democratize the process. In every team, across all functions of your business, appoint champions to become expert builders of dashboards. Regardless of how easy your BI platform may or may not be to use, these builders will smooth the way to valuable insights and make it simpler and more effective for business users to interact with data.

The builders will have a far closer understanding of the requirements and priorities of their particular teams than data engineers and data scientists. So, they’ll know what questions to ask of the data that can maximize the benefits for their specific teams, and they’ll be much better placed to identify those “off-the-wall” angles that could make a real difference. Plus, with builders on board, your data teams are free to focus on the more gnarly challenges that big data presents, doing the stuff they love rather than laboriously processing reports for others. It’s a win-win for all.

2. Push the limits of data analysis

Don’t settle for what you’ve got. Using typical data platforms, your data-driven culture is only nascent. It’s not at the level it could be. You need to get beyond standard BI and analytics capabilities. Deploy a new way of gathering, analyzing, and acting upon data that gives power to the builders and empowers many more colleagues across your organization.

Sisense’s recent merger with Periscope Data was designed specifically with this in mind. Together, we enable deep dives into data and help drive decision-making all the way from the backend to the front-end of any business. Previously, you couldn’t help both the data teams and business users simultaneously with one tool. Now, you can.

3. Ask crazy questions

As I mentioned earlier, go beyond normal KPIs by asking crazy questions of your data, and pivot your KPIs on the answers. Everybody has similar KPIs. It isn’t enough simply to meet them as a plan for growth, unless you want to be just another average, undifferentiated business. If you want to be an industry leader, you need to get hidden insights from unexpected answers to previously un-asked questions.  And this requires a BI and analytics platform that’s agile, versatile, and customizable. Then, you can ask questions and get insights that are specific to your business, your function, and your particular challenges and opportunities.

Don’t get stuck with the same boring answers to the same boring questions. Use a technology that stretches the limits of data analytics.

4. Build business analytics; not just reports

Once you’ve asked the crazy questions, empower your business users to slice and dice the data. Don’t leave it to the data team. They’ll deliver static reports that come to a set of conclusions based on their point of view.

Provide your business users with the analytics and let them loose on the data so that they can interrogate it in their own way. Their priorities may differ vastly from the data teams, so they’ll come away with powerful insights that may be much more business orientated, and more closely targeted to their customers’ specifications and requirements.

In a nutshell, if you want to supercharge the performance of your data-driven business, it’s vital to choose a platform with the most innovative data intelligence capabilities. These capabilities go beyond BI’s organization and presentation of data into the realm of deep-dive analysis and interaction with data. DI will enable you to use information in a way that’s as meaningful as possible for your business, that will ensure you understand your business more precisely and will result in better decision-making.

That’s where Sisense comes in.

The Sisense difference

I’ve spent over 25 years in the software industry and I’ve always focused on driving sales and maximizing value for customers. Throughout my career, I’ve sought to help companies be as data-driven and as agile as possible, but I often felt like I didn’t have the tools I needed to get the data I wanted.

When I started talking with my colleagues at Sisense, I admit I was skeptical. They made a lot of claims about their technology’s capabilities that had eluded me until that point. So, I put them to the test. I took some data sets and used the Sisense platform to mash up and analyze them. Within minutes I got some insights that I’d been looking for unsuccessfully for weeks and months. Frankly, I was blown away.

So, if you’re looking for a way to get your business into hypergrowth, go beyond static BI reporting. Reap the benefits of dynamic analytics, and a nuanced, more intelligent use of data — in other words, more data intelligence.  

Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself. Learn more here or take a free trial.