Have you ever told anyone at work to “trust their gut?” That was probably bad advice. You should have told them to trust their data and practice data-driven decision-making.

According to findings reported by the Business Application Research Center (BARC), 58 percent of companies base half or more of their regular business decisions on gut feel, intuition, or experience rather than on data and information.

“But Thomas,” you might protest. “Surely you’re not implying that gut decisions are bad decisions. What about business intuition. After all, business is an art form and triumphs through shared vision and incalculable human …”


Who told you this?

Probably your gut. But your gut is wrong, and I’ll explain why.

The future is data-driven decision-making

People’s gathered experiences or even nagging hunches do, and should, inform business decisions. But decisions are always more useful when reinforced with relevant data.

Assumptions are proved, gambles become anticipated risks with measurable probabilities, and an educated guess turns into a certainty. Most importantly, data-fueled decisions can be reliably repeated and scaled to all departments, beyond the purview of CEOs and decision-makers.

Notably, in small businesses where the impact of decisions is magnified because of smaller budgets, sharper opportunity cost, and leaner teams, making data-driven decisions is vital.

Join my campaign for data-driven decision-making

So begins my campaign to improve decision-making in small businesses. In the coming months, I’ll be covering the what, why, and how of leading your business to data-driven decision-making. On this page, you’ll find my six elements of data-driven decisions, which will be my areas of focus during this content campaign.

Today, fewer than half of companies report that their data is treated as an asset highly valued for decision-making. There is an urgent need to make better use of data and to reap its full benefit by adopting modern business intelligence (BI) software. It is time to transform the art of business into science and begin making data-driven decisions.

Won’t you join me?

6 elements of data-driven decision-making


Improving decision-making requires holistic improvement across the business. It requires people, culture, and technology to move in step with one another. Above, I’ve broken down six elements I’ve identified as essential to adopting modern BI and building the foundation for data-driven business. Over the next several months, we will explore these six topics:

quality icon The first step to data-driven decision-making is maintaining data quality. Small businesses must ensure people and processes are fed accurate, timely, and secure information. Anything less grinds the gears of your processes and leads to bad decisions.

Get actionable advice on:

  • How to objectively measure data quality
  • Adverse effects of poor data quality on the business
  • Strategies to better manage and secure data assets, and rapidly grant access

culture icon Businesses make misinformed decisions when users are not data literate, and therefore lack understanding of what data insights reveal to them. Bad decisions stemming from botched data analysis can lead to process inefficiency, waste, ill-fit hires, and bad investments. Data fluency is a prerequisite to make effective use of business intelligence tools and support data-driven strategies.

Get actionable advice on:

  • The changing face of the IT decision-maker and its consequence on SMBs
  • Training strategies to effectively assimilate change-resistant stakeholders into a culture of data fluency
  • How to sustain data analytics priorities while weathering a data scientist hiring shortage

technology iconBig data challenges a small business not only in its abundance but also in how quickly it sprawls and needs to be processed. Making the most of BI software is how your small business can turn this data challenge into an opportunity. Notably, the opportunity is significant: Research suggests that companies utilizing BI tools are five times more likely to make faster decisions than companies that don’t.

Get actionable advice on:

  • Migrating from spreadsheets to mature BI tools
  • Best practices to create and utilize dashboards and visualizations
  • Data mining to unearth data correlations and tell the future with predictive analytics

insights iconTurning lead into gold is child’s play compared to the more impressive alchemy of turning data into actionable insight. Insights are the titular purpose of performing business intelligence, but how can your small business use insights effectively?

Get actionable advice on:

  • Case stories to display how real companies are leveraging data insights to differentiate in a competitive marketplace.
  • The right KPIs, metrics, and queries to retrieve pertinent data insights to achieve your business goals.
  • How to apply insights with impact in important business functions such as HR, finance, and marketing.

self-service iconModern BI, known for its self-service data analytics tools, makes data science accessible to nontechnical users. It is a far cry from the once rigid and slow IT department-led process to disseminate reports. Modern BI opens the door for small business adoption of data analytics with agile, flexible, and customizable systems fit for all manner of users and use cases.

Get actionable advice on:

  • Pros and cons to outsourcing BI and data analytics.
  • Reasons to recruit a citizen data scientist.
  • Review of Mobile BI tools to empower remote teams and share data analysis reports, dashboards, and visualizations.

power users iconThough self-service BI democratizes data access, the importance of the power user has never been greater. For data scientists, or users willing to learn, advanced configuration and programming of BI systems leads to innovation and a competitive advantage.

Get actionable advice on:

  • Embedded BI: The capability of injecting BI dashboards and analytic reports directly into an application for real-time, in-context insights.
  • Automating data aggregation, preparation, and analysis.
  • BI bots and natural language processing (NLP).

Transform the art of business into science!

Follow me for new posts, resources, and toolkits to help your small business adopt modern BI and start practicing data-driven decision-making.

New to business intelligence (BI) software? Find answers to your questions and learn the information you need with GetApp’s BI buyers guide, case stories, and analyst Q&As.

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