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March 2, 2020

Study finds employees lose half of their workweek to data struggles with no outcome

Searching through and preparing data has become the most frequent and most inefficient activity plaguing workers today. 

According to the recent State of Data Science and Analytics Report, employees spend 44% of their workweek on unsuccessful data activities like combing through and preparing data.

The problem: Data isn’t communicated in ways everyone can understand.

Your business users may have access to the massive amounts of data in your arsenal, but there are two main various reasons they aren’t equipped to use it:

  • They don’t have the technical skills and/or don’t know how to digest the data.
  • It takes too long for them to prepare and set up the data to create actionable insights.

Naturally, as your team spends more time on creating ways to display data or writing reports they spend less time on data discovery and application. 

Let’s say you have a tool like Tableau, Qlik, or Power BI.

Does that solve the problem? Not even close.

Based on the BI Survey (formerly the OLAP Survey), 92% of employees do NOT actually use the BI visualizations created for them.

Your analysts cannot possibly create reports and dashboards while simultaneously identifying all the relevant insights lurking in your organization’s massive, diverse datasets — they don’t have the time. 

So, how can you create a data-driven culture?

In order to evolve from rows and columns to measurable business impact, you need an effective means of scaling data understanding and usage at your organization.

That’s why we asked Donald Farmer, former executive for Microsoft and Qlik, to weigh in on the conversation.

Donald Farmer has been working in software and innovation since 1998. He is globally recognized as a visionary product leader, sought after speaker, patent holder and author who has built and executed BI and AI strategy for industry leaders Microsoft and Qlik, and numerous startups and mid-stage companies.

Long story short, he knows a lot about scaling data usage at all-sized organizations.

Here are Donald’s actionable tips to improve data usage:

Tip #1: Simply start and start small. 

The best way to become data-driven is to just start having data-driven conversations all across the business. 

You don’t need advanced dashboards or visualizations. You don’t need an analyst team or operations team. And don’t focus data on only the people who are “data people.”

Simply start to think about data, and work your way toward becoming data-driven. There is no reason to wait.

The next time your team is focused on answering a business question, think about what data you can incorporate to the answer.

Tip #2: Formalize your data process.

Set a company-wide expectation as part of your business strategy that you will use data to make business decisions.

Make it known that all visions for the business need to be supported by data.

Tip #3: Moving beyond visualizations.

“Visualizations require a certain set of skills to understand it and create it” Donald shares, “So, you need to be able to move beyond visualizations as your only means to communicating data.”

Try communicating data in a way that is inherently human: language. 

You can do so by using a product like Quill, which adds automated stories to your visualizations or like Lexio, which translates your salesforce data into plain-English stories.

This will better equip your team for in-depth conversations around data.