4 Tips for Empowering Front-Line Employees with Data

When it comes to employees analyzing data and creating reports, we often think first of those in specialized roles — scientists, analysts, IT teams and executives. However, technological and cultural shifts within enterprises driven by a quest to become data driven are expanding these capabilities to everyone within an organization.

Front-line workers are increasingly able to benefit from the proliferation of advanced data tools available on the market today, as well as company wide initiatives to put data into the hands of everyday decision makers.

Here are four tips empowering front-line employees with data.

Have Executives & Managers Lead by Example

The first order of business is avoiding “all talk, no walk” data initiatives championed by executives without adequate follow through. Expecting employees to adopt tools and incorporate insights into their workflows is unrealistic if executives and managers are doing anything less.

As one expert notes for Forbes, “executive buy-in and support” is one of the top influential factors in building a data-driven corporate culture, or one in which leveraging data effectively is the norm.

The C-suite and management level must utilize data in their decision-making processes and communicate these instances to everyone else. Meetings — both smaller team check-ins and larger all-hands assemblies — are an ideal opportunity to showcase real use cases of data, as well as potential ones for the future.

Democratize Data for Seamless, Speedy Access

The mindset is continually shifting from keeping data primarily siloed — therefore dependent on power users to access, analyze and deliver reports — to making the tools and insights easily accessible to all in a timely manner via self-service analytics software. This equips those on the front lines making decisions in the moment, like customer service teams, retail managers and more.

The results? A Harvard Business Review survey of more than 460 executives across 16 sectors sponsored by ThoughtSpot found:

  • More than 70 percent of customer service teams on the front line experienced increased productivity when empowered with analytics.
  • Front-line customer service teams denoted better data access for decision-making allowed them to serve customers better.
  • Around 69 percent of respondents said employees had higher levels of engagement and satisfaction with increased data abilities.

To reap the performance and productivity benefits, teams need access to user-friendly analytics tools as the first step.

Create a Single, Transparent Version of the Truth

Companies also need employees to trust the insights they’re receiving, an effort that’s undermined when different teams receive different metrics based on disparate data sources as a result of siloing. This is where the architecture of business intelligence matters, as it plays a huge role in offering transparency to users — like the ability to trace insights back to the source — and a single coherent version of the truth across the company.

Allowing different versions of the truth to coexist due to siloes harms employees’ trust in data — and therefore their likelihood to take advantage of it. It can also result in erroneous decisions, hampering business outcomes and potentially hurting profits.

Provide Support & Training to Boost Data Fluency

Tools and culture lay the foundation for empowering front-line employees with data, but there’s another piece of the puzzle to consider: data fluency. How comfortable are employees using tools, analyzing data, drawing conclusions and communicating with other stakeholders about their findings?

Adoption of data analytics tools and integration of insights into decision-making depend on employee confidence and competency alike. This is where data fluency, bolstered by role-relevant training and the designation of a companywide lexicon, matters. Give people the knowledge they need to analyze data effectively and speak a common language with other stakeholders — especially roles not specialized in data who may need extra help getting up to cruising altitude.

The benefits of empowering front-line employees with data insights is clear; the challenge lies in getting the right tools, culture, fluency training and architecture into place.