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Today, many companies have access to large amounts of data coming from various internal and external data capture tools/sources. There are many analytical tools in the market that help companies convert this large data into amazing charts and summary views to make it easier to consume this data. However, what’s often provided by many analytics solutions turns out to be even more data or information, not actionable data.
While these terms are similar, they’re not the same. Data represents raw facts, most often in the form of numbers and text, usually found in spreadsheets and databases. Information, then, is processed data organized into a more digestible format with more context, often visualized into reports and charts. Insights, on the other hand, are gathered by analyzing information and coming to conclusions. At the top of the pyramid are actionable insights – insights that drive action, instead of simply answering a question. According to Forrester, 74% of firms say they want to be “data-driven,” but only 29% are actually successful at connecting analytics to action.
Actionable insights seem to be the missing link for companies that want to drive business results with their data. A good practice of data analytics is key to outrunning your competition. But how can you use your data to gain actionable insights that help you make strategic business decisions effectively? Here are some strategies to turn data into actionable insights:
Collect and Track the Right Data (ALIGNMENT)
Your data-driven decisions can only be as good as the data you collect. And while nowadays it’s easy to collect all kinds of data about your business from a multitude of digital and offline channels, only the data tied to your business goals will provide actionable insights. Consider this; if a sudden, significant change in a metric doesn’t give you an idea on how to react, it’s likely an unnecessary metric to track.
Understand the Context of Your Data (CONTEXT)
Moving forward on an insight will be difficult if you don’t understand the context in which the data stands out. The easiest way to give your data proper context is to compare the data with the historical performance of your business. This way, you’ll be able to easily understand the trends of your performance, notice the irregularities and investigate what caused them in the first place. Putting data in the context of your company goals, competition, and your recent activities will enable you to pinpoint the exact causes of fluctuation and drive insights.
Present with Clarity (CLARITY, RELEVANCE)
While data scientists might be able to interpret a sheet of data with ease, understanding the insights might be a little harder for your audience. Visualizing your data can turn a messy sheet into easily digestible charts, allowing you to notice patterns and see the bigger picture you might otherwise overlook. It is just as important to communicate your insights effectively and ensure your audience can interpret them correctly. Last but not least, remember to tailor your insights to your audience. While preparing actionable insights, consider the role of the audience – a single piece of information can be useful for some stakeholders, but irrelevant for others. Communicating insights clearly provides conclusions that are actionable and hard to ignore.
It’s clear that investing time into collecting, analyzing and presenting your data to drive actionable insights is a worthy investment. However, it can also be a time-intensive process that few business leaders can afford. Fortunately, most of the effort can be automated using various Business Intelligence solutions. Business Intelligence leverages software and services to access, analyze and present data in reports, dashboards, charts, summaries and more, enabling your organization to make better decisions while saving time all at once.
Employing a Business Intelligence solution is helpful, but they are limited as they rely on the reader to extract actionable insights and to convert those insights into real actions. Swivelt’s iStrives Performance Management Platform not only consolidates data across all parts of your business into easy to understand comparisons against your business objectives, but it also converts analysis into actions that are automatically distributed to the team – Converting Data into Actioned Outcomes that will drive your business to success.