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Making the most of big dataBig Data is here to stay. Leveraging your ever-growing data in a smart way—to make fast, fact-based decisions—is the foundation of your competitive edge. Yet, there’s just one problem: not everyone is a natural-born data hound. Sure, you may have the analytical skills and the technical know-how to analyze data (without the need to tap a business analyst for assistance), and you may even enjoy the process. But what about the other executives on your team?

If you’re truly committed to making data-driven decisions, then you must have your data presented in such a way that everyone on your leadership team can access it, understand it, and run with it. This means transforming your data and its corresponding insights into a user-friendly format (and recognizing that not everyone wants to arm wrestle with Excel).

Data everyone can use and understand

We’ve gathered our top five tips to consider if you’re looking to ensure that everyone on your team has fast and easy access to data—data they can use and understand.

  1. Visuals matter. There’s a reason why infographics have taken off in recent years. Visualizing complex, vast amounts of data helps your brain quickly download and process information. What’s the main message, what are the key facts and what’s the instant “Ah ha!” take-away? Pictures help drive these points home. So do trend charts, gauges, tables and customizable colors.
  2. Allow users to interact with data. Assuming you’ve lured users in with a fascinating insight, why stop there? Give them the ability to dig deeper, play with the numbers and explore further. Allow them to sit in the driver’s seat and manipulate time periods, zoom in and out of charts and more. Worried about overwhelming them? Consider limiting their data access to just the sources they need.
  3. Tell the full story. You don’t have to be an analyst to know that numbers alone don’t tell you too much. Context is critical if you want an executive to understand the full picture.  Don’t just tell your leadership team that sales are down; tell them how much revenue has been lost, and what the trend looks like year-over-year. Don’t just share growth projections; show the team what the underlying assumptions are. This allows everyone to communicate effectively and stay in sync.
  4. Make data easy to share. Compelling information should lead to productive discussion and collaboration. Giving users the ability to quickly publish and share reports is one way to inspire this.
  5. Give users information in real-time. Executives don’t want data that’s a week old or even a day old. They need to act fast in the moment. This means giving them access to data in real-time so they are in the know, now.

The biggest secret of all: data is meant to be shared and understood.

Your data is only as valuable as your executive team’s ability to understand it. Following these tips, and conveying your data in a friendly, digestible manner, can make all the difference in your team’s ability to use it, and your bottom line.

How do you make your data easily understood?