When Harmons Grocery, a regional supermarket company, used a data app to move the database for 4,000 of its top-selling products to the fingertips of its inventory managers and suppliers, out-of-stock problems plunged by 60%—even during the height of the pandemic.
When a giant auto parts retailer moved data access from Ethernet-tethered laptops to a smartphone app that its district managers could easily access in real-time as they walked the aisles of their stores, the company saw a surge in-store productivity.
And when a Fortune 50 apparel manufacturer and retailer put its inventory data into an app that has turned the restocking of shelves into a game that lets stockroom associates compete for prizes, it also ensured that its showrooms would always be fully stocked, so that no customer walks away disappointed.
These are a few of the multitude of businesses that are capitalizing on the next wave in business intelligence (BI): an app-driven revolution that is unleashing the power of data by putting it in the hands of everyone from frontline workers to executives, in a broad range of industries.
Apps drive action
The trend might not yet be fully recognized across the business world. But a growing number of innovative companies understand the business value of turning data-driven insights into immediate action through data apps.
It’s a secret too good to keep. UnitedHealth Group (UHG), one of the country’s largest health insurers and health delivery systems, is moving actionable data from the realm of data professionals to the people doing the every-day work across the business. UHG business leaders driving these projects report a 12-fold return on every dollar spent.
The continued push for digital transformation across all areas of business highlights the urgency of adopting app-based data tools. But despite the continual improvements in BI, many organizations are not effectively leveraging their best data.
In fact, in most enterprises, no more than 20% of enterprise decision-makers are using BI apps hands-on, according to Forrester’s latest Future of Business Intelligence study. That’s because, typically, the 20% are the only ones with ready access to the information—hardly a recipe for quickly turning insights into action.
Throughout the pandemic, frontline healthcare workers turned to data apps to manage hundreds of thousands of tests and vaccinations. With a quick scan of a barcode and using an iPad, they could check patients in, confirm their identities, print labels for their test kits, and ensure that each patient received personalized emails with their test results and follow-up information.
Without enterprise-wide access, it doesn’t matter how much data a company has, how well it’s organized, or how much it informs the direction of corporate strategy—valuable as all of that can be.
Real-time insights must reach the hands of the people doing the work if BI is going to inspire the in-the-field, up-to-the-minute decisions and actions that translate into business success.
Access is empowerment
This next wave in BI is focused on what organizations in 2022 and beyond must do to truly harness the value and power of data.
It’s what an increasingly digital-native workforce is demanding—the same ease of use, and actionable data and insights that they already take for granted in the everyday mobile apps they use in their non-work lives.
Giving them those tools will not only make their work more enjoyable and engaging, it will make their individual contributions to the company more evident.
Data analytics tends to be one of the biggest and fastest-growing parts of any organization’s information technology budget. And rightly so.
But if companies aren’t using data apps to put that data at their workforce’s fingertips, they not only aren’t getting their money’s worth from that investment, they’re short-changing their employees and customers.