Every business organization, regardless of its size, commercial sector, or number of employees, can benefit from properly organized and coordinated data. It’s no secret that access to reliable data can be leveraged to improve efficiency, simplify the decision-making process, and identify obstacles that are getting in the way of success.

However, not every company has a single, unified data tool that can organize and analyze data. According to the tenth anniversary edition of Dresner Advisory Services’ Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study, more than half of the businesses surveyed expressed their intention to raise their business intelligence budgets in 2020.

Adopting a holistic data management tool can dramatically improve a company’s performance, but only if it is implemented in the right way. In her recent white paper for Dimensional Insight, Jennifer Bresnick explores four of the major challenges that companies usually face when it comes to business intelligence, and how best to overcome them.

Establishing overarching goals and reporting needs

The first step in getting the most out of your data software is defining exactly what you hope for it to achieve. One of the biggest impediments to successful data integration is the lack of cohesive goals and objectives. If everyone using the data tool has different expectations for it, the results will not be as successful as they would be if all of the participants’ goals were aligned.

Overall, the purpose of a data tool should be better decision support. But at the same time, different departments of a company might prioritize different metrics for success.

Before adopting a new data tool, a company should develop and present a clear list of expectations for what they hope to get out of it. Given a complete view of the enterprise’s goals, they can better understand how their personal objectives fit in with the overall ‘grand scheme.’

Overcoming siloes to create a single source of truth

To provide relevant and individualized information to each individual worker and department, a company will often adopt and use multiple data management tools simultaneously. In fact, according to the Dresner study, more than half of respondents claimed that their company was using at least three data tools.

While a specialized array of data tools may seem like a good way to tackle multiple diverse problems at once, having too many distinct data tools can actually reduce the accuracy of results, and make the data less trustworthy.

The more separate data tools that are used by a single enterprise, the more likely it is that there will be inconsistencies in the data. This, in turn, leads to less trust in the data overall, which of course undermines its effectiveness.

The best option is to find a single data tool that can cover all of your company’s needs, which has consistent rules and definitions that can’t be altered by any individual user.

Creating a collaborative culture of action

Unfortunately, providing employees with access to reliable data is only half the battle. More than 70% of those surveyed said that “lack of use” is one of the primary ways to tell if a business intelligence tool isn’t working effectively.

Without micromanaging, it is important to make sure that all of your employees are aware of the functions and capabilities of the data tools available to them. Ensuring that they know how to get the best use out of their data software allows both the software and employees to reach their full potential.

To accomplish this goal, one step that many companies have taken is to hire a Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) or Chief Data Officer (CDO), who is primarily responsible for ensuring that the data tool is fully utilized and integrated into the company’s culture. In the 2019 survey, almost 30% of those responding said that they had a CAO or CDO on their staff, most of which had been hired within the past three years.

Organizations that hire people into these positions tend to have more impressive results, as having a point of contact that other employees can consult about data-related issues makes the data tool much more accessible to everyone.

Partnering with an effective business intelligence vendor

The first, and possibly the most important decision to be made regarding data management is choosing which business intelligence vendor to partner with. Nothing can sabotage your efforts to get more out of your data than unresponsive vendors, difficult implementation, or a lack of tech support.

Entering into any long-term arrangement with a vendor that has a disreputable or unproven track record is a tremendous risk.  When making a choice with such dramatic effects on the overall success and productivity of your business, it is crucial to do some research into which data analysis products have high ratings from consumer reviews and satisfied customers.

Market reports like Dresner’s 2019 Wisdom of Crowds survey give an unbiased overview of the capabilities of different data tools. That report, for example, revealed that many of the major well-known data companies received below-average scores. Dimensional Insight, on the other hand, received very high scores across the board, and a perfect peer recommendation score.

Not all data solutions are created equal, and not all are equipped to handle the needs of every type of business. The right data tool for your company is the one that best fits your individual needs and goals.