Enterprise companies sit on vast amounts of data, typically considered assets. But it’s difficult to identify the right analytics strategy that will leverage that data for real business success — specifically, by informing decision-making at all levels of the organization with insights from analytics.

Inaction here often stems from a lack of agreement among data leaders about which data should drive particular decisions and how to leverage that data effectively. Are our customers’ preferences in our sales data or our social listening tools? But it’s individual teams that determine this — not broadly, but based on individual initiatives with which they are intimately familiar.

That’s why leading companies are attempting to bring facts-based decisions into all levels of the organization by “democratizing” access to advanced analytics. They are also instilling a profound trust in their analytics capabilities among those teams.

In this way, “frontline workers” are “empowered to act on data, with clear channels for sharing ideas and putting them into action quickly,” as Harvard Business Review describes. Here is a closer look at how company leaders can leverage their data to its full value — and improve decision-making company-wide.

Build Connections Between Data And Decisions

Within your data lies the potential for all your teams — marketing, customer service, and executives, among others — to innovate, build confidence and drive real positive change in their daily responsibilities. But 41% of companies struggled to turn data into decisions in 2020, Forrester reports.

According to Forrester, “Insights-driven organizations require the capacity to produce and analyze context-relevant data to make the right decisions at the right times… However, the access to and quality of data alone is not sufficient to ensure sound business decision-making.”

This situation isn’t fair to employees who are held responsible for their decisions but lack access to self-service analytics capabilities. It’s the responsibility of data leaders to consider these needs and assign resources to deliver those capabilities to frontline workers, effectively “translating insights into business impact,” as Forrester describes. But how can data leaders be sure the right data is delivered in the right format to each of the unique employees who need it, in every case?

Real progress begins at the policy level. Data leaders must promote data-driven decision-making broadly, provide self-service analytics capabilities across departments and teams, and then train and motivate employees to use those capabilities as they make decisions, big and small.

Improving Decisions In The Departments That Matter

When self-service capabilities provide business users with access to the insights they need — no matter their role — that availability creates new opportunities in all parts of the organization. Successful data leaders will establish team leaders as “data hubs” for their colleagues, even as those teams share a “single version of the truth” with the rest of the organization.

Once established, both senior leaders and technical users can rely more on other employees to make data-driven decisions. Senior leaders can be confident all decision-makers in the company are also realizing the full value of their data.

Here’s a closer look at how democratized access to analytics can improve decision-making across departments:

  • Marketing: Marketing is too often a guessing game, where insights from data are fleeting and difficult to capture. Marketers can transition away from subjective decision-making based on instinct alone and begin thinking strategically based on continuous insights from a wide variety of meaningful data sources. Democratizing access to analytics puts marketing team leaders in the driver’s seat so they can access the insights they need on any given day, for any specific initiative.
  • Sales: Similar to marketing, traditional sales relies on nuance and instinct. Data is at best a jumping-off point for the hard work of closing deals. But sales leaders can improve how they spend their time with more accurate sales forecasting on demand. There is tremendous value in optimizing time utilization among sales teams, enabling them to focus on prospects most likely to convert. Democratizing analytics means better performance and revenue across these sales teams as a result.
  • Operations: Operations thrives off of small improvements to a wide range of core processes. Democratizing access to data analytics naturally contributes to these goals. Operations leaders can observe key aspects of business processes through their resulting data. They can be confident in decisions to optimize each of those processes, with a targeted, timely and data-driven approach.

Start By Overcoming Barriers To Analytics Adoption

It takes more than new technology and even great data to instill confident decision-making across your teams. Your organization must sit at the “intersection between data, tools, and individual skills and expertise,” as Forrester describes.

Start by understanding the needs of those teams and then provide purposeful resources to help in their decisions and to foster trust in those analytics capabilities over time. Once your teams begin realizing individual success through their use of analytics, you can build a culture of insights-driven decision-making that endures for the lifetime of your company.


This article originally appeared on Forbes.com