You and Your Intuition Should Make Friends With Big Data With both working in tandem, your business could leapfrog ahead of the competition. Try developing the right infrastructure to integrate these information-rich resources into regular decision making.

By Asha Saxena

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Relying on intuition to guide decisions is an age-old practice that's pointed many successful business leaders to historic breakthroughs.

Take Steve Jobs, for example. He developed and released the iPad without any market demand for such a product. Despite industry criticism, the iPad was a success and led to a brand-new category of portable devices.

Intuition is a powerful tool, and when paired with insightful data, can drive unparalleled growth. Unfortunately, many business leaders still hesitate to embrace big data and depend on intuition alone to make key business decisions.

Envisioning big-data applications for your company can be overwhelming considering the amount of information available and the numerous ways to possibly incorporate it. But the longer you contemplate taking the plunge, the further you'll fall behind as the competition forges ahead with new insights. According to Gartner, 73 percent of organizations are investing or planning to invest in big data in the next two years.

To lead your industry and not trail behind, leverage the valuable insights that big data has to offer. Here are four ways to capitalize on big data:

Related: Data is Not an Insight

1. Strike a gut-data balance.

You don't have to say goodbye to intuition entirely. Adopting a balance between using your gut instinct and enlisting metrics will allow you to make the most educated and creative decisions.

Computers don't have emotions (yet), so it's important to properly read the story that big data is telling you. But use your instincts to interpret and implement its meaning.

2. Create an infrastructure for your data.

To take full advantage of the data collected by your company, build an infrastructure that will be present and transparent in the daily lives of team members.

Fashion dashboards that will make data metrics constantly visible. Set up scorecards that can tangibly measure the effects of change. Connect each piece of the infrastructure to your business goals by having regular touch-point meetings.

This use of infrastructure can enhance communication and transparency across your team and promote clarity. Make sure you communicate why you've selected specific metrics and explain how they align with the company's overall vision.

Related: 4 Reasons Sharing Performance Metrics Will Accelerate Your Business

3. Give the entire team access.

Facilitating company-wide engagement with new metrics can encourage your employees to apply the lessons behind the numbers. I like giving my financial team some metrics that extend beyond the cost and revenue figures they typically see.

If members of your staff know how each aspect of the company is performing, they'll feel more accountable for its health. Get into a rhythm of actively discussing how employees are performing in their roles and how this relates to the bigger growth picture.

4. Don't just watch the data. Use it to drive change.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is ridiculous, right? Well, that's true for your data strategy. Watch your metrics to see what's changing and what's staying the same and make adjustments accordingly.

Performance metrics not only reveal decisions you might have to make in the future but also the best time for executing them. Analyzing these numbers can also help you gauge a return on investment and determine whether a specific decision has hindered or aided growth.

Data-driven companies have an advantage: If your business is attuned to customer needs and desires and performance, it can evolve and grow. Look at the data and use it to help determine the company's direction.

For example, consider how you analyze the pricing strategy. Refocusing your strategy to implement and adopt data-driven practices will help propel your company forward.

Intuition will help you devise plans and craft a long-term vision. But if you want to shape a company that leads your industry and delivers bigger, better, more astonishing results, expanding its foundation in data will help you succeed.

Related: What Your Business Can Learn about Leveraging Big Data From Netflix, Eloqua and the 2008 Election

Asha Saxena

President and CEO of Aculyst Inc

Asha Saxena is Columbia University Professor and founder of Aculyst Inc. a healthcare big data solutions and advanced analytics services firm


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