Decision Intelligence: How Untapped Data Unlocks Smarter Analytics
Where there’s data, there are decisions…right?
For the last two decades, companies have been told they can make better decisions if they simply invest in data and analytics. Yet recent research published by Salesforce shows that the promise of these claims simply isn’t true. While 80% of business leaders say data is critical in decision-making, 41% cite a lack of understanding of data because it is too complex or not accessible enough. What’s more, one-third of leaders said they lack the ability to generate insights from data.
This incredible amount of untapped data amplifies what the analytics industry has long known: having data doesn’t automatically translate into driving decisions, nor does it mean businesses are making the right decisions. To do that, they need decision intelligence.
What is decision intelligence?
Gartner defines decision intelligence as bringing together multiple disciplines to design, model, align, execute, monitor, and tune decision models and processes. Fundamentally, it’s much simpler than that.
Decision intelligence is about helping people make better decisions that lead to better outcomes.
Why is decision intelligence important?
For companies to be successful in the future, they need to be able to turn their insights into action. That’s an intimidating step because they are currently drowning in data but lacking in insight. How did they get there?
What has historically mattered to companies was simply reporting on the data they had. If someone in the organization could access data, put it into a report, and share it with others, that was considered a success.
Then came the era of self-service analytics. Data was no longer static or just for IT; it became interactive, dynamic, and empowering. People could explore data, ask questions of it, and understand it, but it still wasn’t available to everyone.
Now, the industry is on the cusp of the decision era. In this era, organizations know how to turn their data into insights, and their insights into actions. People won’t need data in their title to be a data person, and data will be infused into the tools employees use every day. No more jumping applications, moving tabs, or switching programs. Success in this era will require decision intelligence.
The businesses that thrive in the next five to 10 years are the ones that focus on improving the decisions they’re making and driving better outcomes, not just better data.
How do businesses get and use decision intelligence?
Decision intelligence starts by having a data culture, meaning data has been woven into the operations, mindset, and identity of the organization.
That may sound daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Children’s apparel giant Carter’s Inc. migrated to Tableau and Salesforce and quickly found ways to democratize access to their data, empowering all of their employees with the right skills and tools to be successful. As a result, Carter’s was able to cut down the number of hours spent preparing reports and transform into a dynamic, data-oriented company.
If a company doesn’t yet have a data culture, then they need to invest in platforms that allow them to turn repeatable processes into core capabilities. Frameworks like Tableau Blueprint can help accelerate that journey through prescriptive, documented guidance that helps companies become data-driven organizations.
Finally, organizations need to invest in data skills so that everyone, regardless of their position or department, can do what the decision era requires: access data, identify insights, and make decisions.
What’s next for decision intelligence
I’ve been in the analytics industry for more than 20 years, and have never been more excited about what’s coming. Why?
There’s a concentrated effort to make data less scary. Easy-to-use tools like generative artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing are breaking down learning barriers and creating an exponential adoption curve among people that wouldn’t normally interact with data. These innovations are giving non-data people the confidence to make an informed decision and act on it.
All of these capabilities allow us to explore data, expand our curiosity, and understand the context around the data we see in front of us.
That confidence is perhaps the greatest revolution an organization can experience, and here’s why: there’s an anecdote from former Cisco CEO John Chambers who once said he made very strategic and impactful decisions — but he didn’t make a lot of decisions. Instead, the company’s real decision makers were the employees that made dozens of decisions every day, and if he could find a way to make even a small percentage of those decisions better, the value to the company would be greater.
Taming the data beast will only get harder as time goes on, especially considering it’s expected to double in size by 2026. Turning that data into value requires data for all, insights for all, and intelligence for all.
Learn more about how to be a data-driven company and what it takes to build a data culture.