The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) CIO Network, an invitation-only group of global chief executive information and technology officers from the world’s largest companies, recently convened in Silicon Valley to address key challenges and opportunities that face CIOs today.

All the attendees at the meeting reported that their businesses are experiencing a digital transformation as they seek analytics solutions to gain a competitive advantage from analyzing their data. But how can they make the most of big data? In discussions, the group agreed that there are four key things organizations must do to realize the full potential value of big data:

  • Create a data culture
  • Confront data politics
  • Deliver analytics in everyday decisions
  • Understand data quality

Over the next four blogs, I’ll be discussing what these phrases mean, why these requirements are so important, and what an analytics solution must enable you to do to meet these requirements and get the most from your big data. Stay tuned…

Part One: Create a data culture

I’m hearing this phrase a lot these days: “data culture” or a “data-driven culture.” It means a culture in which organizations include data analysis in their decisions rather than just relying on organizational history, individual experience, or that mysterious thing “gut feel.” Data analysis enriches and augments—and sometimes debunks—those traditional sources of wisdom. Plus, a true data culture is also a data democracy, in which anyone in the organization can access data, query it, and share the results.

Organizations in all industries are eager to create a data-driven culture, for the simple reason that relying on data is much more likely to lead to sound business decisions than using those more conventional approaches. Our customers often tell us how their conversations have changed to include data and because of that, they’re able to make better decisions, and make them more quickly, that have led to measurable growth of their businesses.

They’re not talking about simple data, like a spreadsheet of static facts. A true data culture gathers and analyzes huge numbers of actions—by a person, a product, or a machine—to reveal how thousands and millions of actions create patterns and trends over time. Understanding these patterns of behavior leads to insight into what’s going on with your products/services, customer experiences, and business operations, and empowers you to make data-informed decisions that lead to the growth of your business.

You need a special kind of behavioral analytics to do this successfully. Make sure you find one that’s easy for everyone in your organization to use. Ensure that:

  • All employees in your organization can ask any question, across any combination or number of variables, whether or not they have technical experience with query tools. This means you need an incredibly intuitive tool, one that lets people play with it and explore data as easily and informally as they do when they type questions or searches into a browser search bar.
  • The solution should be powerful enough to deliver answers in seconds or minutes even if data sources are huge. Don’t settle for long delays or for querying some mysterious data subset when you can ask a question of all your raw data leaving no detail behind.
  • Analytics should be transparent so people can easily share insights they’ve found from their data. A great way to share knowledge is through interactive dashboards that can be used to invite collaboration among everyone in your organization.
  • Analytics solutions should instill confidence when providing answers to questions. It’s powerful to be able to share how people arrived at those answers. This allows people to make better decisions faster which drives growth within the organization.

Interana enables data-driven cultures—at businesses including Microsoft, Tinder, Sonos, and Imgur—with a behavioral analytics solution that everyone can access. Time and time again these companies have told me that now anyone in their organization can answer their own behavioral questions with Interana. Some of these users previously had no significant access to the data, but now they can ask and answer their own questions at the speed of thought. They’ve unlocked insights and shared findings that help their organizations have more data-backed conversations and build strategies to acquire new customers, deepen engagement, and reduce churn.

And that’s what a data-driven culture looks like: individual creativity combining with data analytics for insights that lead to better business decisions and faster growth.