Insights will vary widely between industries and job roles, but the process of attaining actionable business insights often follows a similar pattern. It begins with defining (and understanding) your business goals, collecting, structuring and managing the data that's relevant to those goals, then analyzing the data to see how your organization is performing against your goals so you can close gaps, spot opportunities for improvement and create real business value.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps:
1) Define business goals
It's important for any business team to set clear goals to work toward. Once these goals are defined and agreed on, stakeholders will already have a better idea of key performance indicators they'll need to measure against. For example, a healthcare team might set a goal of improving certain operational efficiencies, or reducing the number of undiagnosed patients in a given quarter.
2) Data collection and storage
Depending on the size of the organization, an appropriate system for collecting and storing raw data has likely been put in place. If not, the organization will need to establish a process for data storage.
3) Data integration and management
Unless you're a data scientist or engineer that works with data in its raw form, your stored data will need to be transformed through data integration so it can be explored and analyzed. Only then can it be considered ready for analysis by managers and business-end users.
4) Data analysis and insights
Data analytics software and BI tools allow stakeholders to explore and analyze their data, measure performance against established KPIs, and collaborate with others on their team to develop strategic business insights that answer specific questions and move the business toward its goals. Users can share their findings across teams via dashboards and reports, promoting data literacy within the organization — and sparking additional insights from other teams. A decision support system can go a step further by automating calculations and delivering best-case decisions.
In the end, strategic business insights are an organization’s most valuable tool for gaining competitive advantage in the marketplace.