Once you start to understand your data and the information is available throughout the business, a whole new world will open up to everyone that has access to the data. You will be able to see not only how the business is doing as a whole, but how each department of the business is doing as well as how employees are doing personally. With the same information (your single source of truth) being accessed across your business and the same story being told to everyone, not only is that powerful because you now have everyone seeing and reading the same data but the entire business is now moving in the same direction. To keep the business moving all in the same direction, to share a common goal, and to make sure all departments are doing what they need to do is extremely important because this will help drive up revenue and this will lower cost by seeing which areas within departments can be enhanced. With all the great information that you start to see, do not ever be satisfied with what your data is telling you. I think the most important thing that a business can do once the business intelligence solution is in place is not stop asking questions around the data. I know I have had many people state to me if you understand data then you can make smart decisions. Understanding the data is really beneficial and really helpful in guiding your business at that moment, I am talking about not being satisfied with all the results that you are getting now from the information the business is seeing. What I am stating is for you and others to keep asking the questions that I have suggested below. You might remember these questions from elementary school in regards to a English class. By asking these questions, you will keep moving the business, the department and the employees in the right direction.
Who: Who is the data about? Who is collecting the data? Collecting data across multiple who’s will give you a firm grasp of what is going on across multiple who’s and not a single who.
What: Of course you want to know what your data is about. Know what makes up the data and know what makes up the numbers behind the data.
When: Have a firm understanding of when your data has been or is being collected. Most data that is being collected is linked to a timeframe and knowing the time of your data is important to what decisions you make now or in the future.
Why: Knowing why the data has been collected can help you understand what needs to be shown to help the business. The constant asking of why this data is being collected will keep the data in check to make sure it has meaning and not tied to some crazy agenda that someone has gone of on. If it is tied to an agenda be cautious and keep asking questions.
How: The last question is how. How was this data collected? If you are purchasing or using an external data file you need to know how this data was collected and/or aggregated. Do you feel comfortable with the data, do you trust it?