For a business, the top concern is offering valuable products and services to customers. To do this, they need to stay innovative and ahead of their competition.

Traditionally, companies have used error-ridden, time-consuming models to define how the business operates and works toward its goals. However, as increasing amounts of data becomes available to companies today, these models are no longer effective at keeping businesses moving in the right direction.

Processes stagnate when businesses make the wrong move. That wrong move could mean delaying a decision because there was not enough information to make it, or powering forward with a big new idea because there was too little information. That's why analytics has become such a key tool in guiding business decisions. How exactly does it work? Here are five things that analytics can do for a business.

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Analytics Helps Quantify Company Values

Most businesses have a mission statement. Most companies teach new hires and retrain long-term employees on the fundamental values that drive the company to success. What many companies fail to do, however, is quantify these values.



With business analytics, companies can measure how these values translate into numbers. By using quantifiable numbers, broad value and mission statements can be quantified too, rather than just left to interpretation. Companies can use data to focus on operating with processes that keep in line with company values.

For example, a business might identify what it measures of return look like, both tangible returns (such as profits) and intangible returns (such as giving back to the community). These can then be quantified to clearly define expectations for employees. This should improve processes because everyone will be working toward the same clear goal. (Learn more in Can Big Data Analytics Close the Business Intelligence Gap?)

Analytics Can Be Used to Ingrain Smart Decision-Making Into Company Culture

With more information at companies' fingertips, it's easier to empower a team to make quick decisions. Fast movement and development is important for a business if it wants to stay ahead of the competition. Equally important is careful consideration of each decision.

Nothing can derail a company faster than jetting off in the wrong direction. Making fast decisions is easy, but what is more important is to make smart decisions in a short period of time.

With so much data at hand, it’s possible for everyone - not just higher-level employees - to make informed decisions. That's why every department needs access to analytics. It should be ingrained in corporate culture.

Fuel your team’s success by offering access to vital data. This way, it's possible to ensure that each new idea, direction, or project will build the business, rather than set it back.

Analytics Provides Greater, Faster Insight Through Data Visualization

Ever heard the expression, "A picture says a thousand words?" Words and numbers are great when you need to dig into the details, but data visualization can be a faster, better way to distinguish clear trends.

Using visual data can make companies more agile, and can help them find revealing insights faster and make decisions without having to take as much time to understand what’s really happening in the market.

With charts, graphs and other visual aids, decision-makers make speedier choices. This puts each team in motion faster. By keeping an organization fluid and constantly moving, processes improve. (Learn more in Data Visualization: Data That Feeds Our Senses.)

Analytics Helps Companies Avoid Being Left Behind

Today’s world moves faster than ever before. The way people purchase consumer goods is changing. The way businesses communicate is changing. The way companies reach clients is changing. With so much change happening at such a rapid pace, it’s easy for even the largest, smartest companies to get left behind.

Business analytics can help companies avoid falling into that trap. Using analytics allows businesses to create rolling forecasts of the business and of the market. These offer valuable insight into what’s happening internally and externally. Staying abreast of the latest new forecasts can spark innovative ideas, bringing more depth to a company's brand. Improving processes paves the way to releasing innovative new products, services and information. And that can help a company charge ahead of its competition.

The Bottom Line? Analytics = Agility

In today’s business climate, it’s no longer good enough to make good guesses and hope for the best. Creating a company culture based on using business analytics throughout every department helps companies stay agile. It also helps them make smarter choices on where to take the business - and how to get there.