To make sound decisions, you need a clear picture of your business environment. Data can confirm or debunk long-standing assumptions, allowing you to make the best decisions for your organization. Data helps remove intuition and emotion from business decisions. And data can tell business owners something counterintuitive that might otherwise have been dismissed or gone unnoticed.
The 21st-century poster child for data-driven decision making could very well be Amazon®. The maxim “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” explains much of the online retailer’s success. Amazon leverages customer data to optimize its recommendations. From data to insight to action, Amazon keeps tabs on all its activities to discover what works—and what doesn’t.
Any business can practice this cycle of measurement through analysis and action. Gaining insight from your raw information doesn’t have to come with a big price tag either—thanks to Google®.
Google offers free data tools as a no-cost way to improve data-driven decision making for your business. These tools can help organizations collect, analyze and discover actionable insight on their customers, industries and business activities. Google tools use data to guide decision making by:
- Confirming or denying assumptions
- Removing emotion from decisions
- Bringing attention to red flags
The need for business data is universal. Let’s look at three key reasons why data are critical for entrepreneurs:, , 
- Data reveal key performance indicators. KPIs measure progress toward organizational objectives. KPIs are navigation tools, used to keep your business on course toward its goals.
- Data support benchmarking. In benchmarking, an organization can measure its performance against best-in-class competitors or against its own historical performance. Any way you slice it, business data is a record of activity, and the right KPIs will reveal how activity has (or hasn’t) contributed to the bottom line.
- Data can (sort of) predict the future. Leading indicators, such as new orders and customer satisfaction, can signal changes in revenue, and business owners can make adjustments.
The short story is that data can help business owners develop proactive strategies that take into consideration progress toward goals and shifts in the marketplace. Data-driven decision making is more attractive when the data can be easily translated into actionable insight, and that’s what Google aims to accomplish with its data tools.
Google’s data tools can help entrepreneurs collect data about their own activities and what’s going on in the business environment. The tech superpower also interprets its fair share of data, providing insight and inspiration.
The following takes a look at five free Google tools for data-driven decision making and examples of how business owners can leverage them. These no-cost goodies are powerful, easy to use and will win over even the most data-phobic and spreadsheet-averse members of your team. (Let’s admit it—a lot of people groan when they hear words like “metrics” and “Excel® ninja.”)
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