As we kick-off 2019, the industry is awash in predictions for the coming year. More pervasive data access can be found on quite a few lists from 2018 and previous years as well. Its popularity on these lists speaks to the value organizations place on a data-driven business and culture. However, the fact that we continue to see it as a prediction year after year suggests that many companies are challenged to actually realize data’s full potential.

What can you do to ensure that 2019 is the year your data strategy goes mainstream?

Below are five suggestions as you start the new year:

  1. Take Stock of the Tools

The business intelligence and analytics tools designed solely for power analysts and other highly technical roles are not typically suited for the needs of all workers. To institute a data-driven culture, companies need a comprehensive analytics approach that can address the information management needs of all stakeholders and also encompass data from AI, IoT devices, and other emerging data sources.

2. Add More Data

The more data you have, the greater chance you have of deriving meaningful insights that open up actions and opportunities to innovate. Organizations looking to become more data-savvy in the year ahead should open their analytics platform up to additional data sources across departments, and ensure the resulting insights are easily disseminated to those who can most benefit from them.

3. Analyze Intelligently

With the recent focus on self-service data access, companies sometimes overlook the need for trained data teams to set strategies for aggregating, integrating, and cleansing information. But it’s important to invest in data specialists as they play a key role in addressing data anomalies and helping less technical coworkers make data-backed decisions.

4. Set Metrics

Setting key data metrics and goals and hitting those goals encourages buy-in across the organization. In addition, it allows the company to easily track how data is delivering business value and make any necessary adjustments along the way.

5. Use Your Information

It sounds obvious, but many organizations that struggle with implementing a data-driven culture do so because they’re failing to actually leverage data insights into decision-making and actions. According to a recent CIO article, “Data without decisions is like burying your money in the ground.”

The steps outlined above are meaningless if the company ultimately doesn’t derive benefits from the wealth of information at their disposal. To encourage data-driven decision making throughout your organization, start at the top by ensuring the CIO and other members of the C-Suite are practicing what your analytics strategy preaches.

It’s likely that we’ll still see more pervasive data access as a 2020 tech prediction. But wouldn’t it be satisfying to be among the group that has already seen the trend come to fruition?