Data analytics has come a long way since its foundations in statistics; from pyramid construction to powering the information highway of commerce. If data is the lifeblood of an organisation, then analytics would be the heart; the heartbeat like the cadence that drives progress.

Thus, internal and external data practitioners are the antibodies to an epidemic of poor data practices.

According to Forbes, and the 300 executives they surveyed, there is good news for all of us in the business of analytics; there is a growing demand for us.[1] We help manage uncertainty in a volatile and complex business landscape, we fill skill gaps in data initiatives and our business is tied to an organisations’ volume of data. Plus, the volume of data is only going up.

It would appear that organisations ought to be in the pink of health. But, is that the case?

Since most enterprises are becoming increasingly data-driven, this implies a need to improve the tools and analytical methods used. Gone are the days where Excel was the “go-to” as we usher in the era of business intelligence (BI) platforms. Lengthy reports are slowly being phased out to consolidated dashboards on fewer pages. The mandate to push this transition rests on practitioners.

However, we must remember that tools and dashboards don’t produce data; people do. Ensuring a good data culture amongst human capital is key for successful BI adoption. This means ensuring data is properly used to inform opinions and empower decision making. To that end, organisations must define the current state of data use, what needs to change and ensure executives are accountable for leading the charge.

Speaking of data use, it is important to remember that there are two extremes; going off a hunch and analysis paralysis. Hunches are business acumen and instinct talking and analysis helps verify the validity of that hunch. One in tandem with the other is how data driven decision making is accomplished.

It’s been said that a friend in need is a friend indeed; if your vendors are reaching out to you, reach back out to them. Partnered with you, vendors can improve data your internal capabilities through training and change management. This helps on two fronts; bettering internal data literacy and communication by helping analytics users get on the same wavelength as practitioners.

Extending bodily metaphor, antibodies don’t exist in isolation and the body is defenceless without immunity. Likewise, practitioners need organisations to spur a data culture and organisations need to be open about improving their data practices. Self-serving as it appears, there is nothing backhanded about this relationship. Organisations stand to know their clients in new depth, adopt newfound best practices and gain an edge over their competition.

In this case, the proverbial defence is truly the best offence.