Start with big data, build an analytics strategy, then produce actionable business intelligence (BI) and insights. Though it may take a team of data analysts and scientists to assemble the pieces, many predict employees will need an understanding of and access to these analytics. What’s more, it will take data-savvy workers to distribute these insights across the business for real bottom-line impact.

Carefully curated data can be used to predict market trends, anticipate customer behavior, develop new markets, and fine-tune product development. In the past, companies relied on highly trained analytics experts to clean, test, integrate, and manipulate data. But a growing crop of easy-to-use analytics tools is helping business users access and act on data without a degree in data science.

Powered by cognitive capabilities, some of these tools allow employees to pull and aggregate data from multiple sources, then package this information into easy-to-read desktop reports or dashboards. Others let business users pose queries using conversational language rather than complex SQL scripts.

At the core of these solutions are data visualization capabilities that translate and combine often unrelated data into highly visual maps and charts. The result: real-time analytics delivered to every knowledge worker in a format and language all business users can comprehend.

Workers can then click to share their data visualizations with colleagues, and encourage them to add to or modify them for greater collaboration. Armed with this information, business users can identify and tag most profitable customer segments, tweak product designs based on real-time customer feedback, or develop plans expand to markets showing an uptick in interest. All of this adds up to greater revenue and customer engagement, among other things.

Anytime, anywhere—and secure

Equally important as selecting and integrating these new tools is making data accessible to employees on every device. According to IDC, by 2020, mobile workers will account for nearly three-quarters (72.3%) of the U.S. workforce. On-the-go workers want actionable insights at their fingertips, at any time, at any place—so any data analytics solution must support mobile and multiple devices.

At the same time, companies must ensure secure access to real-time data and related analytics tools. Virtualization can help by securely delivering Windows, Linux, web, and SaaS applications. Through app and desktop virtualization, workers gain secure remote access to the data they need to make timely decisions.

Virtualization also supports high-latency and low-bandwidth connections for greater business continuity and increased productivity. And because IT maintains control of apps and data through comprehensive access and provisioning policies, and can remotely wipe data from lost or stolen devices, data remains secure.

“IT can set security policies around what types of information employees should have access to, based on factors such as where and who they are, without having to ask end users to change their behavior,” says Calvin Hsu, vice president of product marketing for Citrix.

The Bottom Line

With these tenets in place, and valuable data analytics in pocket, tomorrow’s employees can respond in real-time to shifting market trends, instantly react to customer needs, even iterate product design on the fly. And this ability to make in-the-moment, data-driven decisions on everything from marketing campaigns to pricing strategies will give forward-thinking companies a leg up on success.

In digital business every organization shapes the future of work