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Why Winning Organizations Use Data to Get the Whole Story

This is the first in a series of articles based on a collaborative program between Qlik and Forbes Insights designed to help organizations better use their data to become more successful.

In business, there is only one thing worse than not knowing the answer to a question or how to solve a problem: not knowing what questions to ask in order to get the whole story.

Such lack of insight may be tough to grasp in an era when data is so plentiful and growing at such an explosive rate. But organizations of all sizes and in all industries are struggling mightily to figure out how to use all that data to understand the whole story. By “the whole story,” think of having the ability to see how all of your business’ data is connected so you can make smarter, faster and more far-reaching decisions to transform the organization and improve its long-term competitive position.

More and more companies are becoming data-driven enterprises. But what does that mean exactly? Simply put, the data-driven enterprise not only ingests data from multiple sources and in multiple formats, but can also provide context and meaning to the data. It’s also essential for organizations to understand the increasingly important role of distributed analytics, which gives constituents—business leaders, IT executives, data scientists and end users—the ability to play with and gain insight from that data themselves. In doing so, it helps everyone see the whole story of how their work—and their data—interacts to impact company performance.

Ultimately, the primary benefit of becoming a data-driven enterprise is the ability to improve performance in key metrics. It’s easy to imagine how a more complete and timely view of all relevant data—including data the organization may never have captured previously—can lead to improved customer satisfaction, higher repeat purchasing and larger order sizes. It also can help to dramatically reduce operating expenses by identifying waste in marketing campaigns, low return on investment in certain product development programs or redundancies in sales force deployment.

The benefits of becoming a data-driven enterprise are now becoming widely accepted as more research emerges linking that decision-making model with business success. A much-quoted study from MIT points out that companies with data-driven decision-making environments have 4% higher productivity and 6% higher profits compared with other businesses.1

For instance, in a recent white paper by Forbes Insights2 on data-driven companies, a major transportation company discussed its ability to use myriad data sources to optimize its system of transportation routes, timetables and fares. In the same paper, a leading financial services firm related how it built a distributed, customized model that empowered business units to create their own data visualizations, which turned prospects into customers almost immediately.

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Unfortunately, too many organizations think the rapidly declining costs of data storage hardware and the increasing prevalence of garden-variety business intelligence have gotten them far enough down the road toward discerning the whole story. Not so.

Too many blind spots still exist. It takes too long to extract and make sense of the data. Too little external data is part of the equation. Data is aging faster than it can be analyzed and acted on.

That’s why new solutions and services are required to help businesses understand the whole story—and become data-driven in their decision making. Companies need software that helps them look ahead and predict possible outcomes, and data must be accessible in a distributed and self-service fashion. They also need data presented in formats that tell a more vivid and compelling story, leading to true insights and, ultimately, actions that achieve better outcomes.

Check out all the Forbes Insights research>>

Sponsor Spotlight
Qlik wants people and organizations around the world to gain more from their collective human intelligence by leveraging the power of analytics. As a leader in visual analytics, Qlik provides a fully integrated and simple platform that delivers insight at the point of decision. Whether it’s a personal visualization from Excel data, a mission-critical analytics application for group collaboration, or an industrial-strength enterprise deployment with complex requirements, people use Qlik to better access, present, explore and capitalize on the whole story that lives within their data.

For more information on what it means to become a data-driven enterprise, visit qlik.com/whole-story.

1MIT study: Data-driven decisions mean higher productivity, profits,” SearchBusinessAnalytics.com, May 17, 2011