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At this point, most companies understand just how important data is. It improves decision making, guides strategy, predicts performance, and eliminates uncertainty. Data is an immense asset and something all companies need to leverage to remain competitive. The challenge is leveraging it as broadly as possible.

Historically, companies have struggled to get data-driven insights in front of all the right people. The insights existed; they just didn’t exist at the right time, place, or format. Highly technical or executive users had access, but not the average decision maker. The result is data that doesn’t live up to its full potential.

Instead of limiting access, companies must work to facilitate collaboration. The more users who have data to work with individually and collectively, the more businesses stand to benefit. Collaboration produces unexpected insights and innovative use cases. It also empowers teams to work as efficiently and productively as possible. Therefore, collaboration should be a key feature of any data-driven initiative. Apply these strategies to bring more users together:

Offer Data to Everyone

Companies need to keep data secure and processes standardized. However, that doesn’t mean data must be siloed off and strictly governed. As much as possible, companies should democratize data access. It should be available to all departments and to users at all levels. With the right set of controls and policies, it’s possible to remove a lot of barriers without creating a lot of risks.

Create a Single Source of Truth

It’s impossible to collaborate when everyone is referencing different data. Having a single platform for all information ensures collaborators are using the most accurate and current information available. Plus, making it easy to track down the right information eliminates a lot of confusion and delays.

Utilize Data Visualizations

Making sense of data is difficult, even for experts. Data visualizations condense vast amounts of data into easy-to-understand charts, graphs, and other visual representations. That way, people intuitively understand the takeaways no matter how complex the underlying data is. Using visual tools is a great way to introduce data findings into any collaborative effort. Fortunately, companies like ThoughtSpot are making data visualizations easier to obtain and share through their relational search engine. Visualizations and graphs are generated instantaneously, thereby making workflows more efficient and data more accessible.

Embed Data Tools

Accessing data findings can be a cumbersome process, which just slows down collaborations and discourages data-driven decision making. Embedded data tools put the interface right into existing applications and workflows. Collaborators don’t have to interrupt what they are doing to look up data. Instead, they continue to work inside the tools and processes they already prefer.

Focus on Users

Data tools need to be as accessible as they are powerful. If the tools are too confusing to use, people will avoid them entirely or else use them incorrectly. It’s much easier to promote data-driven collaboration when teams have tools they understand and with which they feel comfortable. Plus, these tools require less upfront training, so it takes less time to begin collaborating.

Enable Ad Hoc Analysis

Paradoxically, a big part of collaboration is enabling people to work independently. When users have no option but to work together, it rarely produces better results. Data tools should be broadly accessible, so much so that users can search data and locate insights on their own. That way, when teams do come together, each collaborator brings something unique to the table.

It’s hard to say exactly what the collaborative data usage will do, but it’s also hard to overstate the potential. Data (and the insights produced) increasingly distinguishes one company from another. The ones that will (and are) rising to the top are the ones that use this data as capably and creatively as possible. That doesn’t happen when it’s in the hands of just a few users. Opening the door to collaboration unleashes the full potential of data.Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endrose or review brands mentioned.

I love Tech authors, publishing, and talking incessantly about them. My passion is partnering with authors to bring worthwhile content to publication. I started this WusNews.com blog as a way to create a community of writers, both published and seeking publication.