best practices

How to become a data-driven business in 2024

Many companies think of themselves as data-driven. After all, they’ve invested extensively in their business intelligence technology and hired an expert data team. There’s only one problem: most aren’t using their data to make real-time business decisions. 

That means these companies aren’t really data-driven—they’re simply data-aware. 

A data aware company knows they have data—a lot of data—and they sometimes use that data to solve business problems. However, they still rely on static dashboards and outdated reports for decision making. The result is that valuable data goes unused. We found that:

  • 67% of data in cloud data warehouses is going unused for analytics.

  • 84% of frontline workers are dissatisfied with the current insights solutions

  • Only 24% of companies have succeeded in becoming truly data-driven

Data-aware companies aren’t able to interact with their data to identify the trends, forecasts, opportunities, and problems manifesting in real time. Despite their best efforts, data-aware companies are leaving money on the table. 

But there is a solution.

What does it mean to be data-driven in 2024? 

Being data-driven requires a complete rewiring of how you see and use data throughout the company. If you’re truly data-driven: 

  • Your business users can answer their own questions with a simple, search-based interface

  • It’s easy to figure out what’s going on in your business right now with access to your live data

  • You’re not stuck waiting for reports from an overwhelmed data team—you can go from data to insights to action in minutes, not months

  • Instead of static slides, you present live data that you can drill down into to find answers—bringing data into the boardroom

  • You have analytics capabilities embedded into the flow of work, so your people can find the information they need when and where they need it

Read on to learn how to move away from old-school data methods and become truly data-driven. 

The data imperative 

So what’s the rush? With a looming economic downturn to worry about, surely a slick data experience is a “nice to have” and not a deal-breaker, right?  

Actually, sorting out your data stack is pretty urgent. The gap between analytics leaders and laggards is widening steadily, and those who don’t find ways to dominate the decade of data will see their businesses trailing behind. A study by Harvard Business Review on the impact of data analytics found that: 

  • 72% of data leaders say productivity has increased since empowering frontline workers with data

  • 87% say their organization will be more successful when frontline workers are empowered to make important decisions in the moment

Don’t think of your data and analytics program as a cost center—but rather a potential source of greater earnings. Data helps you spot problems before they start costing you money, makes your business run more efficiently, and even opens up new sources of revenue through integrations like embedded analytics

How to become a data-driven company

There are four key steps to creating a data-driven organization, some of which might surprise you. 

Step 1: Start with your culture 

We’re an AI-Powered Analytics company, so you might expect us to recommend you start with the technology. But as much as we like to geek out over the difference between ETL and ELT and the value of interactive data visualizations, the real secret to a data-driven company is your culture. 

In fact, 92% ​​of leading companies identify culture—people, process, organization, change management—as the biggest impediment to becoming data-driven organizations. Don’t treat your new data analytics program as a technical upgrade. Treat it as a far-reaching cultural shift by: 

  • Designing a change management program

  • Seeking out internal champions to promote a data culture 

  • Planning how to overcome change resistance (it will happen!)

  • Creating a compelling internal communications strategy

Change management is a challenge, but it’s not impossible. For insights on how to cultivate a culture of innovation and get buy-in from stakeholders, check out this episode of the Data Chief where ThoughtSpot Chief Data Strategy Officer, Cindi Howson, pulls together some of the best advice from data leaders across industries.

Step 2: Conduct a phased roll-out

Once you’ve realized the need to become more data-driven, it’s tempting to make a big splash. However, it’s counterproductive to rush users onto new data tools before they fully understand the value. Instead, we recommend a simple two-phased approach: 

  1. Roll out your new data solutions to a selection of “power users” who can give you feedback and act as internal ambassadors

  2. Use their input to optimize your data pipeline before sharing it with the rest of the organization

For instance, CarTrawler, a rental car marketplace, initially introduced ThoughtSpot to a small pilot group. The ten power users were so enthusiastic about the platform that CarTrawler felt confident introducing ThoughtSpot to the rest of the workforce. With the insights they gained from their pilot program, it only took CarTrawler 60 minutes to onboard their business users, regardless of their data knowledge. 

Step 3: Democratize your data 

If you want a truly data-driven organization, you need to get the data into the hands of your business users—not just your data and analytics team. That means you need to put your data into the hands of decision-makers on the frontlines of your business. 

In a Harvard Business Review survey, 86% of organizations agreed that their front-line workers needed better technology to make data-driven decisions. This is when the right tools become important. 

If your data platforms are hard to use or require specialist knowledge, your data is not accessible. You need self-service, AI-Powered Analytics that empower non-technical individuals to use natural language queries for searching and drilling down into their business data.

Step 4: Look for quick wins

Before focusing on all of the possible long-term business benefits, secure buy-in from your workforce by showing immediate business results. This strategy addresses the whole “what’s in it for me?” mentality. 

For instance, when Alanna Roesler wanted to create a more data-driven culture in the People Team at Schneider Electric, she brought in ThoughtSpot to improve her team’s access to data. One of her favorite outcomes? She’s decreased the hours spent on ad hoc analysis by about 25-30 hours a week. 

This kind of immediate result is a great way to promote a self-service analytics culture throughout the organization. Today, Scheider’s new People Analytics data stack has a 78% adoption rate—and Roesler has a promotion. 

To become a data-driven business in 2024, you need a data-focused culture—and the right tools. 

There’s never been a more urgent need to make your company data-driven—make better decisions, spot opportunities to improve your efficiency, and delight your customers. But it’s not enough to buy a best-in-breed modern data stack. You need to create a data-first culture by: 

  • Designing a thoughtful change management program

  • Scheduling a phased roll-out to secure feedback and internal champions 

  • Choosing tools that are easy for anyone to use

  • Showcasing immediate value for individual business users to engage with data 

Thankfully, we have a guide for that—follow along to unlock additional resources and actionable steps that will take your company from data-aware to truly data-driven.