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Business intelligence in the C-Suite: How leadership uses data

Everyone in the C-Suite knows the importance of business intelligence, and the competitive advantage of data at your fingertips, but do you really know what to do with all of that data?

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The C-Suite is growing in America

With changes in the business world, the C-Suite has gotten more crowded. Once we had CEOs and CFOs – the head of the business and the head of the money, what else could you need? More recently, we’ve seen COOs arrive on the scene, handling the many of the daily tasks of the company. And now, here comes the CIO – the Chief Information Officer, and invention of the digital age.

But are CIOs offering all the intelligence leadership that the C-Suite needs?

Many companies are still lacking real business intelligence competence at the C-Suite level, and these companies risk falling behind in an era built on big data. So, how do we increase business intelligence competency in the C-Suite? The first step is increasing education about the importance of all that data.

First, know thyself

The reality behind business intelligence is that, if you know how to read and interpret all that data, your company’s story is spelled out in front of you. How things are changing, what strategies are successful, and what you need to be doing next: it’s all there. And that’s information the whole C-Suite needs, not just the CIO.

How can the COO do their job, for example, if they don’t know what standard operations procedures move too slowly or what daily practices are popular with customers? And how can the CEO develop a vision of their company’s future without understanding what projections the data predicts? This is vital information that too many businesses are overlooking.

For example, current data suggests that in 2016, two-thirds of digital marketing money will be spent on mobile ads. That’s because other data has taught marketers that more tech users are mobile-only than desktop only. This is information that can change the company strategy, but someone needs to be aggregating and interpreting this information and working with different members of the C-Suite to make data actionable.

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Values with vision

In many cases, C-Suite executives know that data matters. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any major business leaders who don’t recognize the importance of business information. The bigger problem is that these executives don’t know what to with it.

In order to get executives on board with business intelligence, a few changes need to happen. First, executives need to work with data-driven employees to choose appropriate business intelligence software for their company. Informed staff, such as IT team members, can help to facilitate this while educating executives by providing clear outlines of potential software and their benefits to executives. Using an outside ranking system to help executives visualize the overall quality of different business intelligence programs can also help executives participate in this process.

The company may also want to establish a consultation group of industry influencers who can advocate for business intelligence. This group can help orient the C-Suite about how data can change their approaches, help them to anticipate and manage objections to a data-driven perspective, and work to establish a CIO position in companies that don’t yet have one.

Business intelligence is the wave of the future and the objective nature of data means it’s likely here to stay. Now is the time to prepare your C-Suite for the reign of big data before your company is left behind.

#CSuiteData

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Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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